Bottom of the Ninth Youth Leadership
Bottom Line: Don’t throw in the towel!
I’m a huge sports fan and I grew up watching baseball, given that my parents are from Nicaragua and that legitimately was the only sport that the country represented itself well in. So it was a given that my dad would adamantly watch baseball in our household. There was no doubt that being born in LA, the team we grew up watching and rooting for would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. I know it’s been 31 years since my team has won the World Series, the last time the Dodgers won the WS was in 1988. I happened to be 2 years old at the time, but the Dodgers found themselves facing the mighty Oakland Athletics. That team was stacked with pitchers and batters, so much so that the Dodgers were the underdogs in the series.
October 15th, 1988 was the first game of the series and the A’s had taken the lead in the bottom of the fourth due to a Grand Slam by Jose Canseco. They would hold on to this lead until the bottom of the 9th. The A’s had a phenomenal closer by the name of Dennis Eckersley. They brought him in to shut the show down. He found himself getting two batters out, but managed to allow a man on base. This is where the story gets good, and I believe that we can learn so much from this comeback story.
Kirk Gibson, who’s a legend now, wasn’t on the starting lineup. He had two bad legs. He had pulled his right hamstring and had a bad left knee from the previous series. Manager for the Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, had called Gibson to pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th. Now, in sports you never tend to use anyone who is injured because you know they’re not at their best. Yet, Tommy knew the potential that this man had in being able to get them the win. Gibson found himself against the ropes, he was injured, 2 outs and a full count. What happened next changed the whole course of the series. As people were leaving Dodger Stadium, Kirk blasted a baseball into right field leading to the Dodgers to win that game. They would eventually win the series and be crowned champions.
Whether you’re serving or leading in a ministry at the moment. You will have times in which you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You are physically, emotionally and even spiritually drained. Being the underdog in this present day in age doesn’t make matters easier. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in the batter’s box facing giant’s week in and week out. We may not operate in the adrenaline that flowed through the vein of good ole Kirk, but we operate through the Holy Spirit who strengthens us through our weaknesses.
1) YOU’RE DOWN BUT NOT OUT.
The count can be 3-2 with 2 outs and you may feel like it’s all over. We can’t afford to continue to look at the count as a way of accepting defeat, but as a conduit for the miraculous to take place. Every week you stand on your platform and share the gospel with students you’re making a difference in the kingdom. Yes, they may not be fully worshipping the way you want them too, they may be on their phones while in service, that one kid continues to make bad decisions despite all the talks you’ve had with them, and even them not inviting their peers despite the many efforts you’ve made to create that culture. It’s easy for us to feel defeated and unmotivated by what we are currently facing, but you can’t let that undermine the significant work you’re doing.
2) EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE WILL WALK OUT, YOU NEED TO FOLLOW THROUGH.
I can’t imagine being one of those individuals that paid money to be at the game only to leave before the game was officially over. We aren’t called to walk in our call based on who is in the seats and who isn’t. There will be people who will be there to support your every move and decision and there will be those that walk away. We must be true to who we are called to be and not be swayed by who is in the seats and who isn’t. It’s easy for us to allow our numbers to create our identity. If we have a high numbers one week we feel great, but what about the next week in which your attendance drops because school is now in session and most of your students are in extracurricular activities. If our demeanor changes by who is present then we are performing and not shepherding. We have to follow through even if there was just one.
3) VICTORY TASTE BETTER WHEN YOU’VE GONE THROUGH IT.
The reason people talk about this event in baseball history to this day is because of what Gibson was faced with during that eventful at bat. It wasn’t easy. He had to dig down deep in order to hit that ball beyond the fence. No one even knew he was going to have an at bat, yet he changed the outcome of the game. Every individual in biblical history had to endure certain trails before tasting victory. Whether it was Noah being ridiculed by the public for building an ark in a drought, David was mocked for being too young and incapable of defeating Goliath and even Jesus was just some carpenter’s son who was ordinary to most people. Yet, all of these individuals confronted their uncomfortable situations and overcame them with victory. The rains would not stop and Noah’s ark would soon set sail, David knocked down Goliath with a swing of his slingshot, and of course Jesus would have victory over death. Each of these victories is amazing because they had gone through something significant to earn them. Don’t despise what you’re facing at the moment, for your victory will taste a whole lot better.
What you’re doing in ministry is important and we need you to stay making a difference for the kingdom. Don’t abort the mission that God has you on too soon. Fight through every feeling and emotion. It’s the bottom of the ninth and you’re at the plate and you’re the only one that can knock it out of the park in your context. So go ahead and get that dub for the kingdom.
Praying for you and your ministry,