*The Roberto Clemente Award is an annual award given in recognition to an MLB player who best represents the game through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.*
I feel honored to be named among the mix of players who have been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award for the past few years. It makes me proud to know we aren’t just playing this game for ourselves. I believe I’ve been placed in this sport to make an impact on my family, on others, and in the world for God’s Kingdom. It’s my Lord Jesus Christ who drives me to do all that I do. I’m not playing this game to have the best cars and the biggest house to pass along to my family so that they don’t have to work. That’s not from the Lord.
My financial advisor and spiritual mentor, Don Christensen, always says, “No matter how rich you are at one point in your life, you ought to bounce your last check.” I love that! After all, where am I going to take it? I want my girls to know what hard work looks like—what it takes to be successful. Nothing will be given to them on a silver spoon.
My wife and I feel good when we give to others. In fact, it makes us feel closer to God. When you are able to help someone who is on the brink of death—saving them from starvation, or providing shelter, water, or medicine to those in need—you experience the blessing of knowing you are being Christ to others. It’s a good feeling to know that before I laid my head down tonight I was able to help save someone from dying. And through this, the message of the Gospel is shared with these people. Not only are we providing life for a moment, but hopefully the Holy Spirit is also supplying eternal life for them in that same moment.
“As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He promised us—eternal life.” —1 John 2:24-25
When I think about the people in my life who are the best leaders—or the best followers—I realize they are also the best servants. They serve their children, their wives, and their community, but they serve the Lord first. You can see it in their eyes—they glow because they are living for a higher purpose. It’s inspiring.
Our team manager is a great example of what it means to be a servant. He’s always had an open door policy; he makes sure we know he’s always there for us—to talk to, give a hug, or whatever we may need. I try to be a disciple of his in this way. The other day my teammate was going through a hard time so I went up to him and said, “Man, what you’re going through is really rough, but I want you to know I’m here for you at any time. If you ever need to call me, call me. I know you have your people who are probably a lot closer than me but I’m here. If you ever just need a hug, bring it in big fella.” We often need to remind the people closest to us that we’re here for them. Sometimes I need to look at my teammates and tell them, “I know we’ve been teammates for many years but I still think about you, pray for you, and I’m here for you when you need me.” Those words mean a lot.
Being recognized for this award really pumps me up to do more. I love the words written by Christian hip hop artist Lecrae in his song, “Go Hard” when he says, “Thank you for the grace for the will and the desire got me living for Your glory instead of living to retire but I pray I’ll never tire of going hard for Messiah.”
My wife already knows I’ll probably be more busy when I stop playing baseball than I am right now. There are too many people out there who need help. They haven’t heard the truth of the Gospel. There are people out there who need food, water, shelter, medicine, and hope for life. I know that one of the things I’m supposed to do in this world is to help those people. Whenever I do leave this life of baseball, what I have been granted with in life will only spur me on to go harder and serve further.
Adam Wainwright is a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals and a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.