Matthew 28:19-20, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 2:8

Therefore, go and make disciples … —Matthew 28:19

A giant in the world of baseball and sports died on July 13, 2010. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees and a man of great contrasts, died of a heart attack at the age of eighty. He was nicknamed the Boss because everybody knew that he was in complete control. George made his fortune in the shipbuilding business before buying a once-proud-but-fallen Yankee franchise at bargain basement rates in 1973. Steinbrenner made a $9M purchase and turned millions into billions, as the Yankee franchise is now worth over $1.5 billion dollars.

Steinbrenner had a passion for winning and settled for nothing less than excellence day in and day out for over thirty-five years with the Yankees. His drive fueled the Yankees to seven world championships, his most recent coming in 2009. My first recollection was how many Yankee managers he had fired and how many free agents he had signed for exorbitant sums of money. But the stories of George’s behind-the-scenes generosity, his handwritten notes of encouragement to players, and his mellower attitude during his last few years painted a more complete picture of the man.

Derek Jeter, the Yankee all-star  shortstop  and  future  first-ballot Hall of Famer, shared a story that happened when he was an eighteen-year-old rookie in the Gulf Coast League, the lowest Yankee farm club. Seemingly bigger than life, George came up to Derek, put his arm around him, and said, “Derek, we’re really expecting big things from you.” Derek couldn’t believe that George knew his name, and the story obviously stayed with Derek like an epiphany.

Jeter certainly delivered big-time for the Yankees. Twenty-two years later Jeter is undoubtedly one of the greatest Yankees in franchise history, having accumulated over 3,400 hits, five Gold Gloves, over 350 stolen bases, over 250 home runs, and over 10,000 putouts or assists. Who will ever forget his back flip to nail an Oakland runner at the plate in the AL playoff game? Jeter also led the Yankees to five World Series championships.

A second story was that Steinbrenner believed that there was 10 percent more in every man than the man thought he was capable of delivering. George sought to find it one way or another. We all know that the real boss, our heavenly Father, is so much, much bigger than anyone. Yet God loves us so much that he yearns to have a personal relationship with each person. God’s plan became crystal clear when Jesus uttered the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, God firmly and lovingly wraps his arms around each believer and says, “We’re really expecting big things from you.”

God is the generous giver of all gifts, mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23), and grace (Ephesians 2:8). Our primary desire should be to know him as well as we possibly can. As an outpouring of our love, God expects us to demonstrate and share the good news, day in and day out (2 Timothy 4:2), with people that we come into contact with. God gave us way more than 10 percent extra because he poured the Spirit of his Son into our hearts (Galatians 4:6), and he sealed us with the Holy Spirit for eternity (Ephesians 4:30). We don’t have to try to do it all by ourselves ( John 15:5) because he equipped us with the power of the Holy Trinity, the best team ever. God wants our availability much more than our ability.

God envisioned great things from each of us twenty-two years ago. Now is the time to come through for him.

Prayer: Oh magnificent and most holy I AM, thank you for the life lessons that I can glean from the world of sports and the world of business. Through these lessons learned, I can share them with a world that needs to know that you were, are, and always will be the boss. In the precious name of the One who took my place at Calvary, amen.