For 108 years Chicago Cubs fans have been met with disappointment. Some years there was a glimmer of hope as the team advanced to the playoffs, but ultimately the team would turn up empty-handed. That was until this year. The Chicago Cubs came from being behind in the series to beat the Cleveland Indians in a gut-wrenching seventh game of the World Series. The city of Chicago and Cubs fans all over celebrated the victory.
Ben Zobrist, World Series MVP from the Chicago Cubs, says that ultimate success for him is not about driving in the go-ahead run in Game 7 to end the Cubs’ 108-year championship drought. When Zobrist was growing up in Eureka, Illinois, his father was a pastor and he attended an Awana Club (a midweek training program for children which encourages engagement with the Scriptures and lifelong discipleship.) Each week, more than 2 million children and youth, 330,000 volunteers and 260 staff take part in Awana in 30,000 churches around the world.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” Proverbs 2:6-8
Zobrist told ReachCast, a podcast by the global children’s ministry Awana, that Christ sets the standard for success. The podcast, available on iTunes and SoundCloud, was recorded before the World Series.
“Success is not really about us rising to the occasion, as much as it is us dying to the occasion and giving faith to someone else,” he said. “If I play baseball and I become a great athlete and I win World Series and I become an All-Star and all this stuff that I have accomplished, if I sacrifice other people or my family on the altar of my personal success, I have really blown it.”
Whether you are a professional athlete, student, parent or in your career, spending regular time with God can be a challenge. Pressing deadlines, exhaustion, and busy schedules can sometimes cause us to push aside our time with God. Baseball players play 162 games over the course of six months and then the post-season if they make it. Their time is split between being at home and on the road.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34
Zobrist also shared in the podcast how he has regular times of devotion and prayer on the road during the baseball season.
“It’s easier to spend time with the Lord when I’m by myself in the hotel room,” he said. “When the whole family is around, they need my attention. So I make the most of the times when I am alone, so that I’m filled up and I know that when I’m with the family, I’m going to give them that time.”
Zobrist and his wife, Christian pop singer Julianna Zobrist, have three children. Faith is a priority in his home and at work with the Cubs. He opened up in the podcast about how he keeps his baseball success in perspective.
“The Lord is part of our day, not just during our devotional time,” he said. “We have a group of guys on the team that we try to get together daily for fellowship between believers. We pray for each other, our teammates and families. My hope is not in what I’m doing,” he said. “My hope is in Christ. I have a joy that can’t be taken away.”
Set a foundation. Whether you are a parent, coach, teacher or volunteer, help the children around you set a firm foundation for their faith. It might mean leading a small group Bible study, starting an Awana club at your church, driving junior high students to an outreach event or opening your home. Take time this week and pray about how you can help the children around you to follow Christ. Each of us needs to make sure Christ is the foundation of our daily lives by spending time with Him.
Hit a homerun. Little leaguers and professionals alike know that in order to hit a homerun you have to practice. The same is true for sharing our faith. Take time this week and share your faith with one other person. It can be a friend, family member, neighbor or teammate. Ask God to give you the words to share. Just like baseball players that strike out every once in a while between hits and homeruns, as we share our faith some people will receive it but not be ready to give their life to Christ a “hit,” others might shut you down, a “strikeout,” and some will receive Christ, a “homerun.”
Keep it in perspective. While winning a World Series is an amazing feat, it is important to keep all of life’s success and failures in perspective. This can be done by regularly spending time with God through prayer and reading the Bible. When met with a challenge, disappointment or conflict, take it to God and ask Him how He wants you to view it. God doesn’t promise that our lives would be easy or perfect as believers, but He did promise that He would never leave us or forsake us. He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us through our daily lives. The same is true when we are met with success. Ask God for his wisdom and guidance. It might even mean having a platform to share your faith.
Awana is a children’s ministry reaching more than 3.5 million kids in 100-plus countries with the Gospel and lifelong discipleship. Please visit https://www.awana.org/ for more information.