“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” – Titus 2:6-8
Jim Kleckley was a gifted athlete in his youth. He lettered in three high school sports and received an athletic scholarship to attend college. At 17, he signed a professional baseball contract with the Baltimore Orioles, but one year later enlisted in the U.S. Navy to serve his country in World War II. Following his discharge, Jim continued his professional baseball career for nine seasons as a pitcher with the Pittsburg Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. That’s a great athletic resume, but what I saw in Jim Kleckley’s life goes much deeper than sport. Jim was married for 62 years and raised three children. He got up and went to work every day with an attitude of joy and commitment. He loved to hunt and fish and he poured into others through youth baseball, prison ministry, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Jim loved his church, being around people and talking about Jesus. Jim Kleckley was an exceptional role model!
When spending time with Jim Kleckley the subject of sports seldom came up. Jim was always friendly and fun to be around. I never heard him talk down or preach to anyone. It was obvious Jim loved and cared about people and when I was around him, I knew he loved and cared about me. He just lived his life and I watched, listened and learned. Do you wonder where the next generation is picking up the lessons Jim Kleckley taught? Who is going to fill the void? Everyone is a role model, but not everyone is a positive role model. You have a platform that is unique to you. Remember that and like Jim Kleckley, change lives around you for good.
Father, help me be a positive influence on the lives of others today. Amen.