Go with your strengths

Published 9:48 pm Friday, October 21, 2016

For baseball fans like me, October is a month of almost daily drama. The playoffs began the first week of the month, and it always a wild ride.

This year has been no exception. Some of the games have been incredibly dramatic, filled with all kinds of twists, turns, suspense and surprise endings.

My team, the New York Yankees, did not make the post-season this year. But even though my team is out the running, I still can’t help but watch.


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The pressure-packed decisions managers have to make contribute to the compelling nature of the playoffs. Usually these decisions have to do with whether to leave pitchers in the game or put in relief pitchers.

Already the playoffs have featured two managerial decisions that have been heavily scrutinized, and whether you are a baseball fan or not, there is something we can all learn from them.

First, there was a decision made by Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter. The Orioles played in a winner-take-all wildcard game, where you either win or go home.

The Orioles went home, and although Showalter is undoubtedly one of the best managers in baseball, many Orioles fans will always blame him for this loss.

Baltimore possesses one of the best relief pitchers in the game, Zach Britton. As Baltimore’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays went into extra innings, Orioles fans kept waiting for Showalter to summon Britton to enter the game. They waited in vain.

In Baltimore’s most important game of the year, their most talented pitcher never got to pitch. Showalter was “saving” Britton for the time when he hoped the Orioles would have the lead.

The trouble is, they never got the lead. Toronto took the lead, perhaps because they did not have to face Baltimore’s best pitcher.

Second, there was the decision made by Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants. Like Showalter, Bochy is one of the top managers in baseball. In fact, he has already led his team to three World Series championships.

But on Tuesday night, Bochy decided to remove his starting pitcher, Matt Moore, and go with his relief pitchers in the ninth inning of an elimination game against the Cubs.

Moore was cruising through the Cubs’ lineup, and the Giants’ relief corps has been weak this year. Sure enough, this weakness came back to bite them.

The Cubs scored four runs in the ninth inning to take the lead and win the game, sending Giants fans home to ponder all winter what might have been had Bochy left his starting pitcher in the game for one more inning.

Showalter and Bochy were both criticized for not going with their best available pitcher, and there is a life-lesson in that: Go with your strengths.

God has given you strengths. There is something you are really exceptionally good at, and doing it brings you a great deal of satisfaction. What is it for you?

Whatever it is, spend a great deal of time doing it. You’ll get even better at it, and building on that strength is how you will make your biggest impact.

Most importantly, use that gift, that strength, for the honor and glory of God. He gave it to you to begin with. Use it to serve Him.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.