I have a friend, Sean, who is a tennis professional living in San Diego. Several years ago, Sean gave a tennis lesson to a gentleman on mental toughness training and how to focus correctly during playing time.
A few days later, the student came back to Sean and said, “I have a friend who is involved in professional sports. I believe his organization would benefit from your insights. If okay, I will have his people contact you.”
Sean said, “Fine.”
Sean received a telephone call a few days later. A voice on the other end said, “I am the private secretary for Mr. George Steinbrenner, owner of the New York Yankees. He would like you to come and speak to the New York Yankees coaching staff.”
Sean was given an airline ticket and he flew to New York.
He opened the door to the room where the New York Yankees coaching staff was waiting for him. It was evident to him when he walked in the room that these professional baseball coaches had no intention of listening to a "racket head." In fact, before he said anything a coach yelled, “What can a sissy tennis pro teach us about baseball?” Sean responded, “I wasn’t going to teach you anything. Just please let me ask you a question.”
The coaches agreed and Sean asked," What is the single most important skill a batter has to have to be effective at hitting the ball? In other words- what is the essence of hitting?" The coaches answered, “Can we have a minute?” To which Sean answered, “Sure.” The coaches gathered around and consulted with one another. After a few minutes, they returned with their answer. “The most important skill a batter needs is the ability to see the ball as soon as it is released from the picture's hand. They will have a much higher chance of making solid contact the faster they can see the speed, direction, and rotation of the ball.”
Sean then asked the coaches this question, "How much time do you devote to teaching this most significant skill?" The room fell silent as the coaches recognized they had not spent any time developing a program to teach batters how to be more effective. They answered, “None. No time.”
Sean said, “Okay. Good luck. I will leave you now.”
The coaching staff developed a program for their farm teams to have the batters identify the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand sooner and with better comprehension. In the course of the next season the overall batting average for all the farm teams rose 25 points. That’s incredible!
Another friend, a pastor, really liked this story and occasionally repeats it in presentations.
So, I asked him the question, “What is the essence of a Christian walk? What is the most important skill a follower of Jesus must develop in order to grow spiritually and be an effective Christian?”.
He responded: “I think the fundamental practice upon which all the other spiritual habits are based is having a daily conversation with God. "Conversation" implies that it's two-way... God speaks through his Word (the written Word and Jesus, "the Word became flesh") and through his indwelling Holy Spirit. We reply with gratitude, thanks, praise, adoration, and petition through prayer.
We were created for this kind of daily conversation with God. God knew that the relationship had been broken with Adam and Eve by their sin when He came to spend time with them and had to ask, "Adam, where are you?"
I begin every day reading the Bible and a devotional book. But my most difficult challenge is to turn off the radio of my car and use my commute time to have that conversation with God.”
It proved very beneficial for the New York Yankees hitters to understand the most important aspect of hitting when a 100-mph fastball is bearing down on them. They became much more successful.
It is also great to know how we can be successful when the problems of life are closing in on us. It is reassuring to know that God wants a daily relationship with us. That’s incredible!
Do we want a daily relationship with God in return?