A Society of Servant Leaders

Sometimes people ask me, “What did it mean to you to pitch for other people? Why do you focus so much on others?”

The answer is pretty simple. I care about other people. I love them! And that’s because I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. It’s the same God that saved my life! So of course I want to help save the lives of others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I want to achieve something not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m focused on those who don’t have food or clean water. I’m focused on orphans and victims of human trafficking. Imagine being hungry, or having a contaminated water supply. Imagine what happens to children who don’t have a parent to love them. Imagine what it’s like to be deprived of your freedom! These are the lives I want to help save.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in society. Go find a random person right now, anywhere you like, behind a desk or on a ball field or in a doctor’s office. Go anywhere you like. Ask them if they get up in the morning and set a goal to achieve something. They’ll probably say yes. But then ask them, do they do it in order to help provide for someone who does not have? Most people are going to say no, I don’t think that way when I set goals.

What happens when we approach kids with the idea of setting goals to help others? It turns out they love it! I’ve seen it in my work with the Not For Sale campaign and the Something to Eat campaign. In these organizations, I see kids setting goals to achieve something just so they can help someone else. They’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with fifteen cents to feed someone.” Or they’ll say, “I guarantee you I can come up with five cents to help with Not For Sale. I can do chores and I’ll raise a dollar!” They follow through, too, because for them, helping those in need is a priority.

Involving young people in projects like these is the best way to transform society. We’re helping them see that they can live their entire lives according to the idea that success is for them and for somebody else. This motivates them to be the best at what they do. They’ll work hard to become leaders at their jobs and in their communities.

They’ll also realize how big they can dream. They’ll set goals to be CEO’s and successful entrepreneurs, because they’ll realize how powerful it is to be the one to make the rules. One of those rules can be to devote a portion of their company’s revenues to building orphanages, or responding to food and water crises. Or they’ll find a way to put an end to slave labor in their industry.

Showing up to help a person or a community in need is holy. It really is. The effects are felt everywhere. People know they have been helped, and they want to do the same thing. They know that someone provided for them by setting goals and dreaming dreams. So now they set goals and dream dreams. Now they achieve for the sake of others. Now it goes global.

When we think about about how to help others, we are motivated to excel in our jobs and our lives. We work harder for success when we know that our success can actually help. I really hope we can all learn to think this way.

Happy Thanksgiving! See you Monday.

Let’s Do Something!

Last time I wrote about being a man after God’s own heart. I want my works to represent Him. I want to love on people, and bring them joy. I want to bring justice where there is hunger, enslavement, sickness, loneliness, and fear. I strive to do these things, and I repent when I mess up.

I also want to help everyone see that we can make a huge difference when our works represent Him. We can bring justice to the suffering by loving them as we love ourselves. We can smile on them with the smile of Jesus. We can let them feel the warmth and love that He shows us. We can do that.

But sometimes it’s hard to get people moving. I speak about human trafficking or various hunger scenarios, and people get so enthusiastic! They say, “Hey man, preach it, Brother!” And I say, “Yeah! So tell me, what are you going to do?” And they say, “Oh, you know, I’ll pray for them.”

Pray for them? They’re starving to death! What is there to pray about? This is scripture! Jesus says to love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor. So I don’t want us to just pray about it. I want us to help do it.

I know I’m being impatient. It’s just that I know how we go to church, preach and pray, and talk about how we need to help. But then we can go home and have a family, and we can go home and sit on our couches and watch TV, and we can go home and watch our kids play in the backyard.

I know people that can’t even meet in a church building without fear of being put into prison. I know people that can be walking home from a church gathering fearing that militiamen will come by and swipe them up — or shoot them. They’re so worried about getting trafficked. They’re so worried about guys like Joseph Kony kidnapping them and making them shoot people. They’re so worried about drinking water that is making them sick. And they’re wondering, “Am I going to have to eat dirt today, or is someone going to be awesome enough to make sure I have a bowl of rice?”

We can go home and enjoy our families and our lives, and they are the blessings of God. I don’t take them for granted. We are His beloved children. But people living in fear or coping with disease and food insecurity are God’s beloved children too. They are made in His image, and they have worries we can’t imagine. How are they supposed to use their giftings? How are they supposed to reflect God?

Understanding the suffering of God’s beloved children is the source of my greatest pain. It frustrates me that they suffer while we relax and talk about how blessed we are. It grieves me.

I know that if I walk into a church and talk with this kind of zeal, I might not get the response that I hope to get. They might try to push me to the edge of the cliff. Maybe they’ll even try to make me walk off of it! (Luke 24:28-30)

So how do I get people moving?

Christian Social Justice

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. (Psalm 89:14-15)

What is Christian social justice? Put simply, justice is making things right. When the psalm says that justice and righteousness are the foundation of God’s throne, it means that God brings justice by making things right. Are you hungry? Let me make it right by feeding you. Are you thirsty? Let me make it right by building you a well and bringing safe water to your family and community. Are you an orphan, with no home and no mom and dad? Let me help you to an orphanage. Are you a slave, working for no pay, not allowed to leave? Let me free you. Let me make things right for you, because I know that when I do it for you, I do it for Jesus.


It can be pretty tough to respond to injustice without anger. While there are times when it’s appropriate, anger is not always the response of wisdom. When you respond to the hunger, thirst, homelessness, loneliness, and enslavement of fellow human beings, especially children, you need to use wisdom. Through wisdom, you can find lasting, sustainable solutions to the problems facing people in poverty-stricken areas. When you act with anger, you might alienate people. When you use wisdom, you can get them to listen to you.

One misconception people have is that Jesus went around making things right in anger, but I can only think of a couple of times when Jesus got angry. He got angry with the Pharisees, calling them “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27) and a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). He only did that because the Pharisees were the religious teachers of Jesus’ time, and teachers are held to a stricter standard (James 3:1). Jesus told the Pharisees, “You represent my Father, and yet you act like this, judging people and casting them out of society. That’s not okay. Do not claim to be guardians of the truth, and then turn around and judge people. When you do that, you misrepresent my Father.”

Of course, we don’t know that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees with rage in His voice. That’s not a conclusion I would leap to. I’m pretty sure that Jesus was fairly self-controlled. Think of the other time He got angry, when He drove the money changers out of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13). He flipped the tables and drove them out, but when He did it, people listened to Him. That’s because they already knew who He was, and they trusted Him. They’d seen Him do miracles, signs, and wonders. They’d seen Him love on people. You see? Before He flipped a single table, Jesus had already earned the people’s trust. So when He got upset, people didn’t write Him off. They wanted to know why He was angry.

We can learn a lot from Jesus. If we talk to people about social justice with anger, then they won’t listen to us. Why would they? To make things right, we need to use wisdom, just like He did. Jesus served in love! There’s no other way to go.

To reflect the justice and righteousness of our Father, we need to ask for wisdom. We need to ask for calm. We need to ask to be loving and kind, peaceful and self-controlled, and full of mercy and grace. That’s how Jesus did it, and when we walk in the light of His presence, then those around us will feel nothing but love, and grace, and mercy. That is Christian social justice. That is making things right.

See you Monday.

The Holiness of Success

Sometimes people wonder what keeps me focused on social justice. They ask me, “What makes you do all this for other people?” Well, I do it because I care about other people. I love them, and I love the God that created them. It’s the same God that created me. He saved my life! So I want to help save others.

I’m focused on success for the same reason. I focus on success because I want to achieve something, not only for myself, but for those who do not have. I’m talking about those who do not have food, or clean water, or a mom and dad to love them, or even basic freedom.

I’d love to see that same approach to success take root in the world on a global scale. Continue reading

A Tough Habit to Break

Airlines basically try to re-create middle school society: a small clique of the privileged few envied by everyone on the outside. John Ortberg, Who Is This Man?

I wrote last time about the phenomenon of saving seats for the privileged few. In Rome, reserving special treatment for men of high status served to reinforce social class hierarchy. Jesus taught us not to do that. His brother, James, was very explicit in his instructions to treat everyone the same. But it’s a tough habit to break.

It even happens on airplanes! Continue reading

To Stir A Movement

The movement I have in mind begins with awareness.  It begins with the awareness that people all over the world, our neighbors and God’s children, are suffering, and we are called to help.

The awareness I’m talking about goes much further than knowing the world has problems.  I’m talking about awareness that you can help alleviate people’s suffering and pain.  You can take part in ending the hunger crisis, or the water crisis.  You can help free slaves and provide homes and families for orphans.

This awareness reaches even deeper than doing something to help. It goes deeper than donating or volunteering.  Continue reading

One Of Those Crazy Ideas

I play in a sport where we try to get kids to want to be like us.  But I’ve seen some of us.  And I’m not proud of some of us.  I am not proud at all.  Please, kids, do not be like some of us.

Of course there are other athletes that are great role models.  They are the ones you point out, and you turn to your kids and say, “If you want to be like a pro athlete, be like him.”

It’s not always easy to know which is which.  It can be really tough.  Do I want a kid to be like me?  In some ways, yes!  But in other ways, you know, no!  We change.  We learn, we grow, we mature.  I mean, I’ve sure learned!  But I’d rather see kids learn differently than the way I did, because I’ve learned the hard way.  I’ve done things I’m really not proud of.  In Kansas City, I attacked my bench coach, and it was on television.  Can you imagine?  If that’s all anyone knows about me, then I’d say to a kid, “Don’t be like me.  Not like that.”

But it would be really fulfilling to think that kids would want to be like me because I try to love others the way the King of Kings has loved me.  I would love for more pro athletes to embrace the love angle, the humanitarian angle, the justice angle.

Professional athletes have the ability to make a lot of money, just because people want to be entertained.  And this creates an incredible opportunity.  Because we can make a lot of money, we can do a lot of good.  Here’s an idea: what if more ballplayers got involved in humanitarian issues?  You know what that would do?  It would involve the fans! Continue reading