“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7) Normally at this time of year the baseball world would be talking about the newest inductees to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The ceremony unveiling their plaques in Cooperstown would have been held yesterday. But this is no ordinary year. No one would blame Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, and Ted Simmons if they are disappointed.
Consider the story of Buck O'Neil, an outstanding first baseman for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Baseball League. O'Neil received many honors before his death at the age of ninety-four. However perhaps his greatest honor is being remembered as a man of humility.
The apostle Paul wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
In 2006 when a special election was held to induct former Negro League greats into Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Buck fell one vote short. Everyone was outraged. Upon hearing the news from Negro League Museum President Bob Kendrick, O'Neill simply asked how many other former Negro Leaguers got in. Upon hearing that seventeen were so honored he responded with jubilation over the news that his colleagues had received their rightful place in the Hall of Fame. He didn't complain or pout. He wasn't envious of those other seventeen men. Kendrick said that Buck “had the ability to bring joy out of despair.”
In a speech delivered at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, Buck said “I can't hate a human being because my God never made anything ugly. Now you can be ugly if you wanna be, but God didn't make you that way. You love all men not because you like 'em, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loved them. And I love Jehovah my God with all my heart, with all my soul, and I love every one of you as I love myself.”
Think of how much better life would be if we all loved without hypocrisy, were kindly affectionate to one another and honored others by placing their needs before our own. Buck O'Neil could have allowed the disappointment of being excluded from the Hall of Fame to make him bitter and angry. He did not because he loved and honored others because his God does so.
Question: Have you ever demonstrated this kind of attitude when others have been given an opportunity or an honor that you thought you deserved?
Challenge: Consider the spiritual maturity demonstrated by Buck O'Neil that proved it is possible to love and honor others in spite of circumstances that disappoint us.
Prayer: Lord, forbid in our lives that pride should take a foothold. Help our lives to be characterized by humility.
-- Adapted from The Winning Season by Bill Cashion