I was sitting with a friend a few years ago watching the American baseball playoffs as the Boston Red Sox were trying to break the “curse” that had haunted them since they had sold their good luck charm, the Babe. (Not the talking pig but the famous baseball player, Babe Ruth). During a commercial we grabbed some more pizza, and the conversation turned to the art of coaching.
My friend related to me that many star athletes eventually tried their hand at coaching or even training. The problem often occurred that the natural talent or ability that many possessed was non-transferable. These were great athletes, but they could not train average athletes to be like themselves. It often reverted to, “can’t you see it?” or “jump like him!”
It turned out that average players who had to learn their ability from scratch made the best trainers because they knew what it was like not to know how to do it, and they could explain how they learned how to do it.
This conversation took me back to some leadership training meetings that I attended a few years ago, and on this particular day the subject was “evangelism”, a task where I am not very confident and often fumble the ball. The first speaker was a Babe Ruth kind-of guy who told many testimonies of his spiritual home-runs. I was amazed, inspired and … discouraged. “This guy is awesome, but I could never be like him.”
The next speaker was not an evangelist, but he told many stories about ordinary people like myself who were trained to reach those around them. They were equipped by ordinary teachers to learn to share their faith in ordinary ways in ordinary places. He even exclaimed that he was not very good at it himself, but had even produced some success. Actually, this was an understatement. It was the success of those whom he had trained which caught my eye.
In my heart and mind the lights suddenly went on. This was transferable, and anyone no matter their ability or handicap could do it. In fact, I might even be able to do it. An itch – if I may call I that – began that day, an itch that would not be satisfied until I landed in Manila, Philippines. To be continued…