He must increase, but I must decrease.
– John 3:30 (ESV)
Team should always take priority over the individual. For coaches, that concept is more difficult to teach than ever before. Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the sharp decline of the sacrifice bunt in baseball, especially on the professional level. Today, the art of bunting is at an all-time low. MLB statistics indicate that the number of sacrifice bunts were cut in half between 2011 and 2019. Albert Pujols has one sacrifice bunt in his 21-year career and that occurred during his 2001 rookie season. Believe it or not, Mike Trout does not have a single sacrifice bunt over his 10-year career. The game has changed with more emphasis on the home run. We hear more about bat speed and launch angle than about advancing the runner into scoring position. “Long ball” has become more exciting than “small ball.” Blasting a massive home run makes the ESPN Top 10, a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt does not. Look at what I did becomes more important than giving yourself up for the team.
Today’s world places tremendous importance on the individual. Fame is often like an addictive drug that overtakes our mind and leads us down a path we thought we would never go. Society often glorifies those who do nothing of value. People will do almost anything for fifteen minutes of fame. Families are often torn apart by the selfishness of parents and children. John, “the disciple Jesus loved”, describes a different way to live. He had observed Jesus over time and his life was significantly changed as a result. John warns us about the dangers of thinking too highly of ourselves. His willingness to decrease in importance shows great humility. Too often we’re tempted to focus more on individual success than on Jesus. We lose ourselves in the quest for individual accomplishment and fail to ask ourselves if what we accomplish is helping to grow God’s Kingdom. We must always remind ourselves that fame is fleeting, but His Kingdom will last for eternity.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for my selfishness. Teach me today to place You first in everything I do, say, and think. Amen.