Image courtesy of mlb.com
Yesterday brought memories of my childhood, as former player Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was by far my favorite baseball player growing up, and in backyard home run derbies, I always pretended to be “Junior.”
I loved other baseball players too, but no one matched Junior. He was a left-handed hitting center fielder, and so was I. At bat, no one had a sweeter swing, so I patterned my swing after his. In center field, I aspired to be like him even in the way I held my glove. Off the field, he was the embodiment of cool for an entire generation of kids, and we wore our hats backwards just because he did.
But Griffey, Jr. was also a quiet and humble hero. He didn’t do things just to get attention, and seemed to care more about time with his family than going out on the town. He possessed an infectious joy and enthusiasm in everything he did. He was (and still is) the kind of person you want your kids imitating. I’m sure my father was glad I chose Junior as my baseball hero, instead of someone more arrogant and wild. There certainly were plenty of ballplayers like that I could have imitated.
Yet, in all the years Junior played, he never knew some four-eyed kid named Erik from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA was imitating him on and off the field. He wasn’t knowingly living his life as an example for me, which means that the same is true for us. We may not realize it, but people are imitating us. We may not be in the public eye like a ballplayer, but our children, friends, co-workers, and even strangers might be looking at us as examples to imitate. When they look at us, what do they see?
“Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.” – Ephesians 5:1-2, CEB
Our responsibility as Christians is simple: to follow the example of Christ, imitating his love and generosity for all people. Then, those who imitate us will live by the example of Christ as well. But we must commit to living this way all the time, because we seldom know when others are imitating us. Unless, that is, we see someone turning his hat backwards and swinging one-handed!
– Pastor Erik