“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 (ESV)
Jim Kleckley was a gifted athlete in his youth, having lettered in three high school sports and receiving 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 Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians. That’s a great athletic resume, but what I saw in Jim Kleckley’s life goes much deeper than sports. Jim and his wife celebrated 62 years of marriage and together 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 the lives of others through youth baseball, prison ministry, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Jim loved his church, spending time with people, and talking about Jesus. Jim Kleckley was a true role model for me and many others.
When spending time with Jim Kleckley, the subject of sports seldom came up. Jim was always friendly and fun to be around. He never talked down to me or preached to me. 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. Do you ever wonder where the next generation is picking up the lessons they need for life? Who are the role models for your children and grandchildren going to be? Who is going to model the richness of a life lived for Jesus Christ? Remember, everyone is a role model, but not everyone is a positive role model. You have a platform that is unique to you. Use it to positively impact the lives around you.
Heavenly Father, help me to be a positive influence in the lives of others today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.