by Keith Madison
“All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
I’ve watched a lot of baseball games this season and I’ve seen my share of base-running mistakes. All of them stemmed from either a lack of trust, poor coaching or bad judgment. Case in point: a hitter squares up a ball in the right center field gap. The “gapper” has triple written all over it, but as the hitter approaches second and then as he rounds the bag, he glances behind him to find the ball to see if he can stretch the sure double into a triple. Turning the head to look behind him slows him down just enough to make the “bang-bang” play at third an out instead of a three base hit. In this particular case, does the base-runner not trust the third base coach enough to stay focused on him so that he doesn’t have to look behind him, or has he not been taught the proper base-running technique of picking up the third base coach as you approach second to read his signal in order to continue to third or hold up at second? Either way, it’s a mistake resulting in an out instead of a triple.
The great Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige once said, “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!” Satchel was right, when we look behind, not only do we tend to get off course, it also slows us down a bit. In life, it’s always good to recognize our mistakes and failures so that we don’t repeat them. But, if we dwell on the past we make the mistake of “looking back” too much and it prohibits us from moving forward at a rewarding pace.
Each time I hear Satchel’s quote, I am reminded of one of my favorites passages in the New Testament, Hebrews 12:1-2, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” As a base-runner, if we want to stretch a sure double into a triple, we need to keep our eyes on the third base coach. As a follower of Christ, we don’t want to dwell on the negative past and wallow in its shame; we learn, we grow and do our best to keep our eyes on Jesus.
I’ve always been a Johnny Cash fan. He overcame a lot of mistakes in his life and then finished strong. I recently read a quote that, I think, is quite profound. He said, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping-stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
Someone once said, “A mistake should be your teacher, not your attacker.” Whether in baseball or life, we should not allow past mistakes to beat us down.
“Any married man should forget his mistakes—no use two people remembering the same thing.” Bill Gates