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Character

Unhappy? Maybe that's good!

A final word; Be strong with the Lord's mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10

Ernie Banks, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer, is known not only for his accomplishments as a player but also for what he didn't accomplish. Even though Banks was one of the greatest players of his era and had a long and productive career, he never played in a World Series or a play-off game. While Banks delighted Cubs fans with his glove and his bat, his team became permanent residents of the National League cellar. Yet Banks played with the intensity of a champion, year in and year out. Recently in a radio interview he was asked how he could play at a peak level when there was little or no hope of playing in a World Series. He responded with a powerful statement: "You have to love the game itself and not love yourself in the game." Banks went on to explain that he loved the game of baseball so much that he had to give his best effort in every game.

It's easy to love the game when we're winning and being recognized. When the company is setting sales records, when the church is packed, when others are recognizing our achievements, it's easy to strive for excellence and have passion for the good and the godly. Yet in the years or the seasons of life when there are no awards, no bonuses, and little tangible success, it is tempting to allow the warmth of our spiritual passion to drop below body temperature. But God calls us to be steadfast in our spiritual passion every day, even when we feel like losers.

The apostle Paul's admonition to be strong is followed by his instruction to put on the whole armor of God. Changing Paul's metaphor from a battlefield setting to a ballpark, a loose paraphrase of this would be, "Be strong, and put on the uniform of champion every day!"

—Gary Fenton

Reflection

Do I exhibit my spiritual passion even when there is no prospect of immediate reward?

Prayer

Lord, give me a passion for your kingdom every day—not just on the days I am perceived as a winner.

"If the team wins, we all had a good year if we don't win, then it doesn't matter who had a good year"

—Paul O'Neill, 1994 American League batLng champion

July/August
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