I Will Weep With You

While Jesus was here, incarnate and walking among us, He was the perfect model of servant leadership. He said, “I love people. I was there at the beginning of the world with my Father, and He created man in our image. So when I see things that are going wrong, I want to make them right. As long as I’m walking this Earth, and I see someone that is supposed to be created in our image but is not reflecting that image, I want to heal that wound.”

Last time, I focused on the way that Jesus served when He performed miracles. But Jesus served in so many other ways. For example, He served by teaching. Everywhere He went, He was teaching. When you teach, you take your time, and you give it up for other people. That’s service. And when Jesus went into the Temple, He preached and He loved on people. He served them.

Look at what He did for His disciples. Right before His death, He knelt before them and washed their feet! This surprised them, and Peter even protested, saying, “Master, you wash my feet?” (John 13:3-6) And Jesus said, “Yes, I’m going to wash your feet. I’m going to serve you.”

The ultimate service is the crucifixion, right? Jesus died for us. He died for everyone. He laid down his life even for those people today who think He didn’t exist. And He knew it! He knew what He was doing! That’s service, man! He didn’t sacrifice His life for fame or glory. He didn’t do it so that He could listen to people sit around and talk about how great He was. His life was over. Even though He resurrected, He left the Earth. That was it. It was sacrifice. He chose to do this one great deed, and through it, He saved humanity. That’s service.

And so, for me, that’s why Jesus was It. The one and only. He was transparent. He was vulnerable. He shared Himself with the world, and He exposed Himself to the ultimate pain by hanging on that cross.

He knows our pain, too. Jesus cried. He wept. He wept from His own pain, in the garden. He also wept for the pain of others. When Lazarus was dying, He wept for Mary. He said, “I can see your grief and I can see how painful it is. I understand it, and I’ll weep with you.” Jesus did this knowing full well that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He wept with Mary because he was transparent and vulnerable. He took on all our pain. He experienced it all. And He shared it, all of it.

Being a servant is understanding and empathizing. Jesus said, “Hey, I see your pain and I feel it. And do I know there’s going to be joy? Yes! Do I know the sun’s going to come up tomorrow? Yes! But you know what? I’m frustrated because you’re frustrated. I’m sad because you’re sad. I’m here and I understand, and I will weep with you.”

When you think about how husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church, it’s basically this. It’s serving.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Jesus Served

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Ephesians 5:25

Jesus was the perfect model of servant leadership. He was the ideal. He was It.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul told husbands to love their wives the way that Christ loved the church. What did he mean by that? He meant that husbands should serve their wives. That’s how Christ loved the church. He gave Himself. He served. Everything He did to build the foundation of the Church was an act of service.

Think about all the miracles He did. Jesus did tons of miracles. He did so many more than we actually know about. The Bible says that Jesus did more miracles than were written, and if you think about it, it had to be that way. Anytime His shadow hit somebody, people were healed. Just think how often that happened! All day every day, surely! That is amazing to me.

Think about when He fed the multitudes. He took two fish and five loaves of bread, blessed them, and broke the loaves. Then with that, the Bible tells us, He fed 5,000 men. But there were women and children there too. So He fed way more than 5,000 people! It’s amazing! He fed all those people. And what was He doing? He was serving them. Those people were hungry, but He didn’t just talk to them. He gave them something to eat! You know what else? He could have just looked at them, and in His Father’s name, used all the power He had as God Incarnate, to waive their hunger. He could have made it as if they were never hungry in the first place. But He didn’t do that. He fed them. He satisfied their hunger by serving them. That’s the ideal. That’s the example He gave us.

Each time Jesus performed a miracle, he served people. It’s because he looked at people’s pain, and He felt it, and then He healed it. He healed the broken-hearted. He looked at someone who had a disease and took it away from them. That’s service.

Jesus didn’t heal people’s pain, disease, and broken hearts in order to receive. He didn’t ask for money. Have you ever thought about how much money Jesus could have made through His miracles? Do you realize how rich He could have made Himself when He walked the Earth and healed people? He could have set up a Jesus healing booth. He could have brought people in by the thousands, saying, pay me this and I’ll heal you. People would have paid anything to be guaranteed their healing. They still will!

But Jesus didn’t do that. He performed miracles in order to serve. There was no money involved in His ministry. Jesus served. He simply served. He said, “I do this because I love people. I was there at the beginning of the world with my Father, and He created man in our image. So when I see things that are going wrong, I want to make them right. As long as I’m walking this Earth, and I see someone that is supposed to be created in our image but is not reflecting that image, I want to heal that wound.”

Jesus served us so much that I can’t cover it in one blog post. So more on this next time. See you Thursday.

Service is Addictive!

Here’s your mentality when you’re a servant leader. You say, “I’m going to take my leadership skills and use them to serve.”

That’s the whole concept of servant leadership, in a nutshell. You lead with the understanding that you’re going to serve others. And when you start doing that your life changes. It transforms! You’ll find joy.

One place you’ll find joy is in your job. When you serve, you will find that you’re not just going through the motions anymore. So many of us are doing that! Or at least trying to do it. You find a job where you have some stability and you’re earning a good living, and you’re not thrilled, but it’s a good gig. “So,” you say, “I guess I’ll keep doing it.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t even make sense to live that way!  Try an experiment. Ask yourself, why do you do your job? Obviously, making money is great, and making a lot of money is even better. But what happens when you go home? What happens when you look at yourself in the mirror? Are you happy? Do you love what you see? If not, then making money isn’t enough.

And the point is, money never is enough. There’s always going to be more to a fulfilled life than the money you earned. Check out those people that enjoy their jobs because they’re helping. Think about them. They go home fulfilled. It makes them better husbands and wives. They’re better parents. They’re better in their families. That’s what comes of being fulfilled in your job. Those people have it figured out. They’re not just working to make ends meet, and they’re not just working to make tons of money. They’re doing that, sure, but they’re also working because it helps other people. They serve others.

When you take your leadership skills and use them to serve, your soul literally is healed. Your soul is healed simply through helping other people. You feel better as a person. You know who you are, and exactly why you walk this earth. There’s a reason for you to be here, and you know what it is. You’re fulfilling your mission. You feel a sense of accomplishment. This is addicting!

We’re starting to figure it out. Leaders are using their skills to create companies that are committed to a cause. We’re finding out that when they do that, people want to buy their products. These leaders are founding companies, producing goods and services, and creating jobs, all for the purpose of service to humanity.

We’re talking about entrepreneurship and hard work that isn’t driven by greed. It’s driven by a commitment to service. We’re seeing a whole new generation arise that is saying, “We’re tired of just making money for ourselves. We’re tired of all these things. You know what? I’ve got a gift. I’ve got a gift of marketing, or I’ve got a gift of invention. I’ve been given a mind that can design a product, or a concept, or an idea. I take pleasure in that, personal pleasure, and I take pride in it. I even make a living doing it. But above all, I know that it’s going to help somebody else, and this is why I want to continue doing it.”

You see? It’s addicting! What happens once you get past the whole do-it-for-yourself mentality? What happens when you start a business or take on a job simply because it allows you to help somebody else? What happens when you do this, and your concept works? I’ll tell you what happens. You get addicted! You want to keep doing it!

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Transition

People ask me if I’m going to miss being in the game and on the mound. You know what? I don’t think so!

Maybe there will be times when I miss being a professional baseball player, but I don’t think I’m going to miss the on-field stuff. I don’t think I’m going to miss the stress. I also don’t think I’ll miss the competition, because I feel like I already did everything I needed to do on the field. I don’t have anything left to prove. I doubt I’ll watch a game wishing I was out there.

Retirement is still fresh, obviously, so I’m still conscious of just how ready I was, mentally, to be done. Maybe in a year or two I’ll miss it a little bit. But I’ve talked to a few guys who said that they chose their retirement when they knew it was time to go, just the way I did. All of them said that they don’t miss the field. They don’t miss the stress of a game. They just miss the camaraderie of the game.

I think that I’m going to miss being in the clubhouse with the guys. I’ll miss laughing and talking, and I’ll miss trying to help guys out. Everybody’s different, and I was able to help guys in the game in a lot of different ways. I’ll miss that, although opportunities might still arise. I’ve also got a lot of friends in Spokane, so I’ve got camaraderie here.

I know I’ll miss certain guys in the game. But I’m a relational guy, so I’ll keep up with them. Just a text here and there will be good enough at times.

I think that instead of missing the on-field stuff and the clubhouse camaraderie, I’ll be learning to make the transition to a different routine. What does my life look like post-career? What am I going to do? What kind of job can I have? What will keep me busy, and bring me joy? It’s very important to me to feel like I’m making an impact.

So this transition phase is the most challenging, because I’m used to routine. For so many years, I knew exactly what I was supposed to be doing at any given point in the year, or even the day. I’d be working out for specific purposes. I’d know what day I should start throwing. I knew when it was time to get ready and pack for spring training, and before I knew it, I would be in my spring training routine. All that has changed! Now I’m exploring new options, and trying to create a routine where I feel comfortable and at ease, doing something that I enjoy. It’s important to start figuring that out.

Meanwhile, I’ll go on challenging myself, and finding new opportunities to be challenged. I’ll find new ways to compete. I’ll definitely have that in my hobbies of hunting and fishing.

There are so many possibilities! I just have to make sure I choose the right ones. I need to do the right thing for my family and for me so that we remain a team. That is a huge priority for me.

Another one of my priorities is to raise my boys to be servant leaders. I want to raise a whole generation of servant leaders! So one of my new challenges will be cultivating opportunities for public speaking. That is going to be fun! It’s going to be fun to learn how to do it well, and also to continuously improve. I’m also finishing my second book, and will publish that this year.

Servant leadership is a subject that is very dear to my heart. More on this next time. See you Thursday.

The Last Out

It felt good to walk off the field for the last time. It was emotional, but it felt good. I felt very blessed.

The first time I ever got to be a part of a World Series, it was with the Colorado Rockies. So it was pretty awesome to be able to end my career against them. They were a big part of my story. A huge part of my story, actually.

The Giants had a lot of competition with that team, so I faced a lot of those guys a lot of times. I felt like I had faced Carlos Gonzalez about eight gazillion times in the last few years. You know, he beat me a few times, and I beat him a few times, so overall it was a cool deal. On my last day, in my last game, I made my final out against Carlos.

He flied out to center. When the ball was caught, and he was walking off, Carlos stopped, and he yelled out my name. I looked over at him and he took his hat off. He tipped his hat to me. I think that was pretty awesome. My wife said that it’s one of the coolest things she’s ever seen.

I was having a hard time that morning. Just thinking about what that day meant was rough. It was giving me a hard time. I cried quite a bit coming into the ballpark. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the speech! But I did, and it’s because the Holy Spirit was definitely there. I think He was the one guiding me in my speech, and helping me choose my words. He guided me in how I was talking and how I was reflecting. And I think He was giving me calm. He was the one right there with me, letting me know it was okay. I think the Spirit of God was on it all.

It meant so much to me, just knowing that Jesus was standing there with me the entire time. He had His arm around me, just saying, “This is good.” That gave me a lot of peace. Jesus made it possible for me to be able to do what I did on my last day as a professional baseball player.

Jesus was there with me that day, but He has been with me the whole time. He was there with me throughout my entire career. He was always there. We had to walk through some pretty rough passes, we really did, and I couldn’t have done it on my own. He had to walk me through them. So being able to understand that He held my hand the entire time, through my entire career, knowing exactly how it was going to end, is something that I found very comforting.

Jesus also knows exactly how things are going to go after my career, and I find that comforting as well. It’s time to move on. I’ll have something to say about that next time. See you Monday.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year! Be blessed!

Thanking My Wife

Baseball is not as glamorous as you’d think. The game comes with a lot of stress, not least of which is traveling. It can be really hard on families, especially when kids start to enter the picture.

It was hard on my family. We were able to afford help for my wife, so she wasn’t always by herself with our sons, but it was still hard. There were a lot of times when she couldn’t reach me, because we were in different time zones, or I was in a game. So she had to make a lot of decisions for the family without me. Then once I got home, it could be hard to figure out how I fit into the family and its routines.

And yet, throughout my time as a player, she encouraged me. She encouraged me a lot.

Some guys are able to have stress off the field and use that to drive them to focus on the field. I was the exact opposite. If I had a lot of stress off the field, I wasn’t as focused on the field. If I felt unrest off the field, or things were not clicking well in the family, I didn’t do very well on the field. So that was another role my wife took on. She kept peace in our home, and made sure I felt like everything was okay before I went to play a game. And she did it so well.

She made sacrifices to do all this, too. She made personal sacrifices to go with me and be with me. She put some of her own dreams on hold. One of those dreams was her horses. She had to put that dream on hold for nine years, and risked not being able to return to it. Fortunately, she is riding and competing again, and she’s really enjoying it. But she risked it.

These are the reasons for the tears that I shared when I thanked my wife at my retirement ceremony. I knew everything that she’d done for me and our family. She met every challenge, and navigated through every changing scenario. It’s really incredible to think about everything she was able and willing to do.

That’s why I said that it wasn’t just me retiring. We retired. Baseball was our job. We did it as a team, and there was no other way it could have worked. I might have been the one on the field. I might have been the face of our family in the game and in the community. But we did it — me, my wife, and our children — as a team.

This wasn’t something I took for granted. There were times that I did take it for granted, but I got a lot of grace and I learned and I grew. I realized just how big a role my wife played. And I am very thankful for what she did. Her effort and her sacrifice allowed my career to go as long and as far as it did.

In the end, I needed her permission to retire, because it was her retirement, too. And I received it. She was okay if I played longer, and she was okay if I decided to transition out of baseball. As always, she gave me her full support.

For these many reasons, I got really emotional when I said “thank you” to her. Everything she did meant so much to me. She means so much to me.

See you Thursday.