Think like a rookie, play like a pro.
One of my favorite sports movies is The Rookie. It’s the story of Jimmy Morris, a pitcher who had his single-A minor league baseball career cut short by injuries and saw his dream of playing in the big leagues disappear. Years later as a high school baseball coach, his players challenged him to give the big leagues one more shot after they saw him throw with unhittable velocity. After they won their first District Championship, Jimmy gave it one last shot and became, at the age of 35, the “Oldest Rookie” to pitch in the majors.
His trip to the big leagues was marked by the Rookie Rush – the five things that all rookies feel and experience when they get their shot: Passion, Belief, Humility, Gratitude, and Intensity.
Rookies have Passion – they are fueled by their love of the game. I can still remember the excitement of putting on the uniform and hitting the field. Rookies live, eat, and breathe their sport. Their passion and purpose get them out of bed in the morning. That passion for your sport is meant to take a back seat to your love and passion for Christ (Mark 12:30).
Rookies have Belief – they believe in the impossible. They have an unquenchable optimism and expect great things to happen. They don’t have limits. “Jesus said, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.’” (Luke 18:27) This optimistic, will-not-be-denied belief is what champions are made of. It’s a belief in God’s capability to overcome our challenges. Every single victory in scripture and in life is preceded by belief.
Rookies have Humility – they know they have a lot to learn from the veterans and they have to earn the respect of their teammates. They are willing to serve, pick up after practice, and go the extra mile to serve their coaches and teammates. Humility must be a verb; we show humility by how we act. (Philippians 2:3-4) Serving others is the best way to show it. When we model humility, God sees it. He loves it. And He rewards it.
Rookies have Gratitude – they recognize the opportunity they’ve been given and give thanks; they take nothing for granted. They have an “attitude of gratitude.” (Colossians 2:7) They give thanks for everything, even the little things. And yes, even for the challenges. Our attitude of gratitude must overflow. Thank the trainers, thank the referees and the coaches, and thank your teammates. Gratitude is contagious.
Rookies have Intensity – they are willing to do whatever-it-takes to make it. They go above-and-beyond. They work. They get to practice early. They stay late for additional work. All of the disciples knew intensity; they knew how to pursue the prize and how to combat the enemy – with diligence. They are hungry. (Philippians 3:13-14)
If we are continuously fueled by the “Rookie Rush” – the passion, belief, humility, gratitude, and intensity – we will become the best we can be. And we’ll make every body better along the way.
WisdomWalks SPORTS, Ellie Claire (Nashville, TN), pages 35-38.