I spent last week taking batting practice with Mike Schmidt and George Brett. One taught about power, the other about hitting for average. I listened as they taught me about so much more than the mechanics of a great swing. After hearing them teach I was compelled to be better, to strive for excellence. They convicted me in my failures – my feeble attempts to do it all by myself. They called upon their coaches, teachers, and teammates that helped them be great.
They helped me realize that the moment the ball leaves the pitchers hand is preceded by hours spent at the tee, in the cage, in the weight room, studying from others, watching tape, and breaking down opponents. The moment of the swing carries with it hours of preparation. They reminded me of the old adage that “a failure to plan is a plan to fail.”
Actually, I didn’t go to a baseball fantasy camp. I spent two days with Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter.
These two men have achieved great things. I could go into details, but let me sum it up by saying that they are the embodiment of the greatest hope I see for the United Methodist Church. They represent the extreme center at its greatest, most fruitful, and most faithful. I know neither of them personally, and I am careful to not idol-ize them in a sinful way, but they are models to emulate, respect, and learn from.
I went to the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s Leadership Institute, and it renewed me. The time spent in learning, worship, and personal reflection gave me a new passion for who I am as a pastor. They challenged me and encouraged me to be a better Christian, pastor, father, and husband (not necessarily in that order).
While there I made a list of things I wanted to do, changes I wanted to make. It became a pretty long list. There is much work to be done. So I ask you now to stop reading and please, say a prayer for me. It is easy to be fired up on Monday morning.
It will be more difficult later in the week when my old habits start to creep back up on me. It will be more difficult when my cold lingers a little longer than I was hoping. It will be more difficult when I feel too tired to cook and a quick trip to MacDonald’s would solve everything. It will be more difficult when I sit down to do some hard work on my sermon and facebook is just waiting for me to “check” for a few hours. It will be more difficult when I am tired in the morning and the gym feels so far away. It will be more difficult if I keep trying to do this alone.
I need your prayers.