What can we learn from church softball?

By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries

My church softball season ended last night. Sadly, after a promising season, our tournament play ended with a dud. I am guessing that between the past two churches I have attended, I have played 12 seasons of church league softball. Only one of those seasons ended with a championship, and I think that was the first season. Over the years of playing church softball, I have learned some lessons and observed some very interesting phenomena.

This season, a Unitarian "church" joined our league. It was interesting to see them refuse to pray with us after a game. They said, "most of us are atheists." Then, when we had to ask for a game to be canceled due to two families on our softball team being evacuated due to the wildfires near Colorado Springs, the coach of the Unitarian team said, "We don't pray, but we'll think positive thoughts for you." Then, in our next game, the Unitarian coach proceeded to inform us that the wildfires only hit politically conservative areas of Colorado Springs due to karma for them not believing in global warming. What happened to the positive thoughts?

I was once almost thrown out of a game when I very respectfully and calmly informed the umpire (provided by the other team) that he had made an incorrect call (which he had). My team laughed, as I would likely be voted "least likely to be thrown out of a game" if there was such a title.

I once, due to an epic brain malfunction, thought I was the third base coach instead of a base runner on third base. A runner scored out of order, ending the inning, and costing us at least two runs. We eventually lost the game by two runs.

We have nicknamed a team in our league "the evil empire," not due to them being unfriendly, but due to us losing to them 13 of the last 15 times we have played them. They're actually quite nice.

There is a Mennonite team in our church softball league that is very good. I say they should be required to use wooden bats out of respect for their heritage. They'd still probably beat us, though.

It is amazing how church league softball players will argue over such insignificant things. In view of eternity, church softball itself is quite insignificant. But, arguing for 5 minutes over whether the infield fly rule should be called seems to be a particular waste of time.

Throwing bats/gloves, even cussing, seem especially out of place. Thankfully, such displays of childishness are rare. But, they should be absent altogether.

We once had an opponent, a large guy, slide into second base, colliding with our second baseman, a small girl, and tearing her meniscus. Thankfully, that has been our only significant injury.

In our church softball league, players are not, generally speaking, hyper-competitive. I struggle with how competitive to be. I, of course, want to win, but I try to keep a proper perspective. I have goals of personally hitting an out-of-the-park homerun and having our team win the championship, but my life will not be significantly impacted if I fail to reach either, or both, of these goals. In sports, I think Christians should strive to excel, but should do so with a humble spirit and friendly demeanor. I entirely admit, though, that this is a difficult balance to achieve.

I don't know how many more seasons I will play church league softball. Maybe I will "retire" when/if my two goals are reached. Maybe I will "retire" once I no longer enjoy playing. Or did that just happen when we were losing 28-2? Whatever the case, if there is a lesson we should all learn from church softball, and any other church league sport, perhaps it is that, as Christians, winning a game is absolutely not worth causing even one person to stumble spiritually. If my attitude in church softball pushes one person away from Christ, I will never play church softball again (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 8:13).

Now on to golf season. You know why they named it golf? Because all of the other four-letter words were taken!

Photo credit: MeLissa LeFleur

TagsChristian-Life  | Church-Issues  | Personal-Life

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Published 8-8-13