It is less than a week to the All- Star game and I have fallen a little off my pace for posting articles about baseball players. In an effort to get caught up, I hope to feature a couple players from each of the All-Star rosters in the days leading up to the Midsummer classic. To get the ball rolling, I will aim the spotlight on Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Holliday is in his twelfth major league season. He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 7th round of the 1998 MLB draft. He opted to sign with them and steadily played his way through the minors. He made his debut for the Rockies in 2004 and became a fixture for them for 5 seasons. He signed in Oakland as a free agent before the 2009 season, and was traded to the Cardinals just before the trade deadline. He has been with the redbirds ever since. Holliday is a seven time all star, 4 time Silver Slugger, and made 6 trips to the playoffs, including 3 to the World Series – winning a ring with the Cardinals in 2011.
He has made baseball look pretty easy for more than a decade, but he will be the first to tell you that it is not easy. As you can read in this article from CBN, earlier in his career, Holliday would have “those nights when you lay in bed and you look up at the ceiling wondering what this life is all about“. In the search for meaning, Holliday began attending team chapel services. And after considering all that he was hearing, he decided that living for God was what he wanted his life to be about. When asked about the difference it made, he says “Being a Christian, I think I started considering other peoples feelings more than I had in the past. I think I just learned that God has a plan for all of us…”
Holliday has also taken his place as a leader on the team. I love this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch where we see Holliday take on a role of mentor to some of the young prospects (at the time). He brought them to town, showed them around, worked out with them and treated them to an experience that left them astounded. He has also been actively supporting several charities in the St. Louis area. When asked about his philanthropy, he answered “It’s very clear in the Bible, from those to whom much is given, much is required,”
Here is Holliday talking about his faith and it’s role in his life and career.
And so as we kick off All-Star week, I for one hope that Holliday gets a chance to spend some time in the spotlight, so he can direct that spotlight on God who has worked in and through Holliday. Holliday is one of the featured players in the book Intentional Walk by Rob Rains. In talking about signing a contract he says “There were high expectations from a lot of people, including myself, mostly because of the money part of it. But I learned during that period that if everything was easy you wouldn’t rely on the Lord. You wouldn’t grow and you would count on yourself. A lot of life is trials and how you deal with them, and relying on Him to make you a path. You want to always be running toward God and not running away from Him.”
Here are my takeaways from Holliday’s story.
1- Not Easy – As mentioned, Holliday’s stats suggest that baseball comes easy to him, but life is more than baseball, and “if it were easy, you wouldn’t rely on the Lord”. That is such a true statement. We all have hard things that happen to us and we all go through seasons where every day seems to be a grind. Where trouble comes the strongest is when we are depending on ourselves to take care of things. I know that I learn a lot more from the struggles in life than I do from the easy victories. I think when things are hard, we pay more attention to how they eventually work out. And we notice that it all fits perfectly into God’s plan. He invites us to trust Him at all times. That in itself is not easy, but in the end, it is ALWAYS the best plan.
2- Mentor and Be Mentored – I remember a pastor friend of mine challenging me to always have a mentor and always be a mentor. We never get to the place where we have it all figured out, but God takes us on his path for a purpose. Our story is our story so that others in similar spots can see how God worked in our situation. Holliday talks about attending chapel services with other believers and how that changed his life. He has also taken on the role of mentoring the younger players on the team. He comes alongside them and helps them learn the ins and outs of professional baseball. He talks about how God changed him by making him more aware of the people around him and the needs that they have. Who has God put in your life to mentor you and help you on the path He has designed for you? Who has He brought into your life to share your story with? Both are important relationships to have as we strive to live our lives with purpose for Him.