Dear Grandson (on your milestone Big Birthday),
I know you’re a baseball fan. I know you’re a Cubs fan. Yay, Cubbies!
You know that baseball players in the minor leagues dream of improving their offense – hitting the ball – and improving their defense – fielding the ball – so that one day they will be promoted to a Major League Baseball team.
Right now, you’re like those young players with their big dreams.
Right now, you’re on your way out of the minors – childhood, that is – and you’re now a teenager! You’re still learning, however, growing, developing talents, acquiring new skills. All these are important, but what’s most important as you keep striving for the majors – that grown-up thing – is framing a life that is built on character.
Baseball has NINE players. NINE innings. So, what I want to share with you are NINE fundamentals that I believe will position you to help give you a good eye at the plate, help you field a bad hop, help you wear both competiveness and compassion on your uniform.
1 Show gratitude.
Be thankful for all the good in your life. Talk about being thankful. Show your gratitude to others. Say “thank you” every day. Especially to God. You’re never off on the wrong foot when you step out in gratitude. You can’t think about bad stuff when you’re thankful and keep your mind on the good stuff.
Whatever happens, in every situation, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the score, be grateful and continually give thanks to God.
2 Show forgiveness.
You will make errors, others will make the errors, but God forgives. We should too. Seek to have powers of forgiveness and love and you’ll be super. Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with others, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you. Don’t be angry with others but forgive one another. Never hold grudges. Have a loving and understanding heart. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them because that’s what God says.
3 Show faith.
When you keep believing – whether you win or lose – you are choosing to hold on to faith. Stay faithful and trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Keep the words of the King of Managers, Jesus, in your heart when He said to “Have faith in God.” Without faith it’s impossible to play the game of life and walk with God. My all-time favorite verse, the logo on my pennant, is Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
4 Show kindness.
You will be amazed how much of a difference you can make by just smiling every time you talk to someone. You have the power, the gift, to change someone’s life with small gestures: a tip of the cap, a hello, a thank you. Be kind and patient and understanding to everyone. Clothe yourselves with a uniform of compassion and mercy, gentleness, and patience.
5 Show integrity.
Be honest and true in all you do each day. Play by the rules and do what is right and fair, even when it’s hard, even when you get a bad call. Make your decisions based on the strong values you have learned. Treat all the people you meet that there is something worthwhile in them, because when you play and live with integrity and with moral character, you live securely. Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got. Become a role model of good actions for your teammates. Show integrity, seriousness, and set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right and speak the truth. No one can argue with that.
6 Show respect.
Treat everyone with consideration and respect, no matter what team they cheer. People notice how you treat others. Honor others the same way you want to be honored. In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble, and value others more than yourselves.
7 Show friendship.
Be that friend who thinks of others, who is thoughtful and considerate, who nourishes the goodness in another person. Pursue friendship and happiness will happen. Encourage your friends, cheer for them, help them, and tell them how much you care about them. Build up their hope. Be truly loving, for love is the best rule in the playbook. Love your friends, your teammates, deeply. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Let your love and friendship extend to everyone, especially those on the end of the bench, for love is from God.
8 Show service.
You follow God’s way when you give and serve others. You get energy from following your passions, from committing to people and service and causes. Compassion isn’t waiting; it’s doing. Compassion isn’t watching; it’s helping. You have been blessed with special abilities from God to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. Show generosity, be rich in the good things you do, and share with others.
9 Show the love of Jesus.
The best way to improve your life, your position, your relationships with teammates and with others, is to act like Him. Love doesn’t give up. Love doesn’t lose faith. Love is hopeful, no matter the score. Love endures through all circumstances. And that’s the love of Jesus you show to everyone. Be Like Jesus. When you show love, you share in joy and happiness and wonder and goodness. And that’s always the winning way.
I pray that you will show these NINE fundamentals as you advance into your teen years.
Happy 13th birthday!
I love you! God bless you. Always.