I love baseball.  I love playing it, I love watching it, and I even love studying it.  Being a math guy, I really appreciate all of the statistical implications involved in the game and how they play themselves out on the field.  You know what they say: “Numbers don’t lie.”

Over the last 15 years or so, though, the numbers in baseball have been turned upside down.  You may have seen or heard of the Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball, that explains some of these changes.  Going back to the work of Bill James, baseball professionals have started to realize that the traditional ideas of successful players were not necessarily accurate.

Whereas traditional baseball scouts look for players that look big and strong, those that have natural-looking swings, those that have low sprint times, those that hit the longest home runs, and those that “look” like baseball stars, it turns out that those things often have little to do with actual statistical production.  Those same traits that were believed to be full-proof in baseball circles, as it turns out, are relatively worthless.

While I would love to give Bill James and his contemporaries all of the credit for these ideas, I believe we have to look back at the book of 1 Samuel to find the origin of these theories.  God had commanded Samuel to go out and anoint a king to replace Saul.  He rolled up on Jessie’s land and started sizing up his sons.  Just when Samuel thought he found the most kingly of the group, God dropped a little knowledge on him.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NIV)

Yes, God is talking about the selection of a king in this particular passage.  Is He also talking about baseball?  I’ll let you decide.

I am pretty sure, though, that He is talking about every situation imaginable on earth.  We tend to have certain expectations of people based on their looks or their background.  We love to put people in boxes because it makes it easier on us. 

It’s time that we start looking at peoples’ hearts.  I know it is difficult because we are conditioned otherwise.  But when you are considering somebody for a job at your company, or looking for a person to fill a role in a project, take some time and get to know them.  Learn about who they are, what they believe, and where their heart is.  Then choose the qualified candidate whose heart is most in-line with your mission.

In all of his books, author Malcolm Gladwell points out that while conventional wisdom is usually simple and easy, it is not always true.  Things are often not as they appear.  So we need to be willing to abandon traditional expectations and look beyond the obvious.

As Christians, we claim to want to be just like Jesus.  Yet, we go with the flow and buy into whatever society tells us is acceptable or successful.  In order for us to carry out our mission of sharing Christ with the world, we need to be able to see things as they really are. 

Like Samuel being led to anoint young David as king, we need to be able to look past the smokescreen that society has created and find truth in the hearts of the people around us.  That is the only way we will be able to serve them, love them, introduce them to Jesus, and work alongside them to do the same for others.

Perhaps if I knew as much about the Bible as I do about baseball, this would be easier for me to do.  What’s stopping you?

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