By Del Duduit
Most of my interviews with professional baseball players are quick hits. I grab them for a few moments before a game and talk about their faith or what or who has inspired them to be a better person.
I honor their time because I am at their place of business. A Major League Baseball locker room and field is their office, and I take that into consideration.
A good interview might last four to five minutes. I count that as a major win, because I can usually produce two or three devotional chapters from that one conversation.
Some talks have ended in almost the blink of an eye, and others have continued for several minutes.
My interview of Los Angeles Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw was 10 minutes only because I requested time with the Cy Young award winner in Cleveland and stood by the on-deck circle while we chatted.
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But perhaps one of my longest interviews was one I did with Adam Cimber, at the time he pitched for Cleveland. Ironically, he was not my initial target when I planned to go to that game, but after I researched him, I knew I wanted to try and grab him for a quick talk.
To my surprise, he took all the time he could after warmups, and he was genuinely happy to talk with me about his faith.
I was able to write two chapters in Dugout Devotions II: Inspirations from MLB’s Best based on my time spent with Adam and probably could have written three.
Chapter 20 addressed a common theme among athletes – one many of them battle. Identity.
In 2017, Adam was left back in extended spring training with the San Diego Padres. At the time, he entertained thoughts that his baseball career might be in jeopardy, and he didn’t respond the way he should have to the potential bad news.
“I thought to myself that if I could not play baseball, then who would I become?” he thought. “If I’m not a baseball player – who am I?”
Adam soon reflected back on how he was raised, and he realized his relationship with God was not where it needed to be for him to handle this situation.
“I realized through all of those tough times where I needed to put my identity,” he said. “I had to make God the center of my life, and everything else would fall into place and that if I was to pitch, then that would be icing on the cake.”
He listened to his heart and made a stronger commitment to be the Christian example he needed to be.
“That is when I started to have a more in-depth and personal relationship with Jesus,” he admitted. “I started praying more and reading my Bible more. I felt like I was in an actual relationship with God again instead of going through the motions.”
Adam rediscovered his real identity, and it was not his role as a professional pitcher. He enjoys being a member of the Indians, but he knows his responsibility as a child of God is on a higher playing field.
Do you find your identity in your occupation? Many people do. Perhaps you live in the past and look back on days when you were more successful than you are today in the eyes of the world. Maybe you have an important role in life and feel that you are more valuable than others with whom you associate. Has your ego become inflated to the point that you place yourself higher than others around you? This can happen so easily, especially when you have obligations to meet.
Don’t let your work dominate who you are as a person. Adam, who now plays for Miami, fulfills his obligations as a pitcher and does it well. But he also uses his platform to honor God. Here are some ways you can reclaim your identity no matter what your occupation might be:
- Family is first: Your loved ones should be your top priority. If your boss needs you to work late and prepare a presentation when your son has a game, then find a way to get the job done after your son’s event. If your daughter has an evening band concert, do your best to be there. And if your spouse wants you to go out to dinner on a date, put the work and the phone on hold.
- Give of your time: Make it a point to volunteer for a charity of your choice on a regular basis. Become involved with a non-profit organization and stay faithful.
- Give your money: God commands you to give a portion of what you earn to Him. After all, He provided you with the job to make the income, and giving back to God is a way of praising Him for his many blessings on you and your family. You can’t take any of this earth’s treasures with you.
- Find ways to make an impact: There are simple ways to inspire others such as posting verses on your social media profile, like Adam does. You don’t have to be a minister in order to have a ministry.
Who you are says a lot about who you serve.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2: 10 KJV)
You can order Dugout Devotions II here.
Del Duduit is an award-winning writer and author who lives in Lucasville, Ohio with his wife, Angie. They attend Rubyville Community Church. Follow his blog at delduduit.com/blog and his Twitter @delduduit. He is represented by Cyle Young of C.Y.L.E. Agency.