Have you ever been awestruck? Have you ever had the chance to meet someone that was considered iconic? Your hands start to sweat and you start rapidly thinking of what you’re even going to say to them once you meet. You make sure your iPhone is ready to take a picture and wipe those sweaty hands on the side of your jeans. Then you make eye contact….. with a baseball legend.
This past week I had the opportunity to meet Bobby Cox. Bobby was a manager in professional baseball for 29 years. Out of those 29 years, 24 of them were spent with The Atlanta Braves. On top of countless other MLB accolades, he led the Atlanta Braves to a World Series championship in 1995. He holds the all-time record for ejections in baseball with 158 (plus an additional three post-season ejections). Cox ranks fourth on the baseball all-time managerial wins list. I can go on and on about his career and how the 90’s were nothing short of spectacular in ATL. But this was a moment in time that I will remember forever. Not because I was meeting a Baseball Hall of Famer, but because of the quick one minute story he told me. Right before I sat down with him in the Braves dugout in SunTrust park, I finally landed on the question I wanted to ask him. I said “Bobby, what was it like to play baseball alongside Mickey Mantle?” He looked at me and said
“You know…. One day Mickey walked up to me and said I was just a mediocre player. That If I wanted a long career in Baseball that I should consider managing instead. So I did. And I think he was right.”
And just like that my time with Bobby was up. There was a line of other people forming behind me and his media crew politely moving me along. He signed a baseball for me, too, which proudly hangs in my Braves memorabilia room – AKA my youngest sons bedroom. But while I was walking away, I was more blown away with his story than the fact that I got to meet him and get an autographed Baseball.
What blew me away was that one sentence changed the trajectory of this mans life. One sentence! And not even that nice of a sentence. One that probably stung for Bobby to hear, especially coming from Mickey. But what if Mantle never spoke those words? What if Mantle just kept his mouth shut or told Bobby what he wanted to hear? Without those words spoken, we wouldn’t have the ripple effect that it has made in America’s pastime. Because of those words, think about the ramifications it has had across the board in so many other peoples life.
Sometimes we really don’t lean into the depth of our words.
Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death” but in so many ways I don’t live with the reality of this. So many times I just nonchalantly say something or cave into fear of man. But something that strongly encouraged me, especially as a leader in the Church, was to speak boldly and unapologetically. But with the mindset that I wanted my words to bring life. Not death. Thankfully, The Holy Spirit will do the rest but my job is to just be faithful and love with my words.
Is this true for you? Can someone say there life was radically changed by one sentence you spoke to them? I have now changed the way I look at every conversation I has with other individuals. I would encourage you to do the same. One sentence at a time.