“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! ARE YOU BLIND?!”
That’s all I could think to say. I was twelve years old, and clearly the best pitcher to ever grace that mound. I had spent every Saturday at the ballfield every spring of my life! I was an 8-time all-star! I had been to pitching camps! I had thrown 100 pitches a day every day of baseball season since I was nine! I was LIVID! Pitch after pitch, I threw strikes and the umpire called balls. Fastball, curveball, slider…didn’t matter. I thought I was “painting the corners” like Greg Maddux, but the umpire saw it differently. I threw my hands up in disgust as the man continued to make the wrong calls, and finally I’d had enough, and I let him know it. I stepped toward the plate and began to argue with him…and as I did, my dad got up from the stands and walked to the fence…
A lot of young people have probably seen this scenario play out a certain way: Dad argues with the umpire and takes up for his son. WRONG! My dad pulled me from the game, made me grab my stuff from the dugout, and took me home. What transpired on the long walk to the car, the long ride to the house, and continued for a long time in the yard at our house was a long talk I needed to hear. My dad talked to me about RESPECT. Read Romans 13:7.
My dad told me that the person he saw on the pitcher’s mound that day wasn’t who he and my mom had raised me to be, and it wasn’t who God wanted me to be either. I had been a Christian for just a few short months, but I wasn’t exactly being “a light to the world” (Matthew 5:14-16) when I was pitching a “hissy fit” on the baseball field. My dad taught me that day that everyone deserves respect, and that someone doing something I don’t like—or disagreeing with me about something—doesn’t change what God said about how I should treat them. The same Jesus who said “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39) also said “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). I didn’t have to agree with the umpire, but I did need to respect him. That’s a lesson our world needs to hear today, and I’m thankful my dad taught me that.