Baseball, Business and Best Practices

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I was throwing in the backyard with my eight-year-old one evening this spring, and I had a flash of insight. I’m playing the best baseball of my life. I’m on fire! OK, perhaps “on fire” is a slight exaggeration, but I realized that I’m seriously playing my strongest ball ever. And this is ironic, considering I am in my mid-40s. To what should I attribute this sudden surge in skill? What gives?

One word sums it up, plain and simple: Practice.

This is now my third season helping coach Josiah’s spring-summer team. Our record is 7 and 2. We are having fun, winning games, and deliberately putting in the serious practice time on the fundamentals. The team’s head coach, Chris, drills us in two-hour practices on Saturday mornings. We all groan, but deep down, we are discovering it is actually good for us. Even when it’s not an official practice, Jos’ and I are often throwing in the backyard, plus reviewing more complex skills. I suppose it should not surprise me that my own sense of advancement is increasing.

Here is a poignant reminder that we can sense similar advancements in our faith-at-work progress as we engage in implementation of intentional, deliberate best practices. For serious standout excellence, consistent repetition is key. Malcolm Gladwell champions this principle in his hallmark book Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company 2008). The concept rings true in musical performance, public speaking, sports, painting, programing, and virtually every pursuit of human flourishing. So of course, the impact of practice applies in big ways for business. Passionate commitment to regular, repetitious practice will hone leaders and their workplaces, bringing God greater glory. The Apostle Paul urges us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord . . .” (Colossians 3:23).

Michael Baer insists: “It matters how we operate our business. We are called to operate it with excellence, to use the best practices to create a great company . . . there is no Christian excuse for sloppy business habits.”[1] Such operational practices must involve thoughtful planning, an establishment of values, vision, and goals, the comprehensive design of strategic plans, and the intentional assembly of the business team.

What will you do personally this summer to pursue intentional, God-honoring practices at work? Consider revisiting your business’s core values and asking, “How are we actually acting on these?” Lead your team in a review of your primary tasks and query, “How can we serve our clients with even greater effectiveness?” Perhaps you should block out an hour alone, just to practice some fresh dreaming—pursue some God-like creativity!

James Davison Hunter winsomely declares, “In short, fidelity to the highest practices of vocation before God is consecrated and in itself transformational in its effects.”

So how are you, your team, and entire workplace being transformed through best practices? With some fresh commitment and intentionality, you can find yourself saying, I’m playing the best business of my life. I’m on fire—to the glory of God!

 

 

[1]Baer, Michael R. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2006, page 21.

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