As a job, I am a “Site Coordinator” for an after school program that operates at a school in the greater metro Twin Cities. I oversee a staff 0f 15-20 who plan and carry out a daily before and after school program during the school year, and full-day programming in the summer. I have a boss and a group of supervisors that I answer to, but at the site, I am the leader.
So an important question to ask when you are in a leadership position is: How should I lead? What is my leadership style? I am a firm believer that a good leader values people and leads by example (i.e. is willing to do whatever task they are assigning others to do). A good leader is willing to practice what he/she preaches. These thoughts came to mind today as I looked into the story of Ender Inciarte, All-Star outfielder for the Atlanta Braves.
Enciarte signed his first pro contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2008 as an 18 year old. Signed out of his native Venezuela, Inciarte worked his way through the Diamondbacks system but was left unprotected and selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012. He earned a spot with the Phillies out of Spring Training, but did not appear in the Opening Day game. After the game, he was demoted which for a Rule 5 player, means he was available to be reclaimed by Arizona. And that is what happened. He climbed the minor league ladder for a couple more seasons before making his debut with Arizona on May 2, 2014. He would play 118 games for the Diamondbacks that year, finishing 5th in Rookie of the year voting. He played one more season in Arizona before being traded to the Atlanta Braves. Last year with the Braves, Inciarte won a Gold Glove award for center field. Thus year, he already has 2 5-hit games for the Braves, christened their new stadium by recording the first out, the first hit and the first home run at the new Ball Park.
How do you win a Gold Glove? You keep some tricks up your sleeve and you have an accurate, strong throwing arm. Check out this play from a game last season.
You can learn more about Inciarte and his thoughts about the political upheaval in his native Venezuela from this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. He recently tweeted. “I ask God every day and every night for the lives of all the people that go out every day to fight for liberty in the streets.” You can also read about his excitement to play in the All-Star game on Tuesday, or you can check out this capture from his Instagram account. He wrote “I feel very humble and proud to be able to represent my team in the All star game. Faith in God and hard work has brought me even farther than what i ever thought. But the kid never stops dreaming.
But it was in the book “Baseball Faith” by Rob Maaddi that I really was challenged by Inciarte and his faith. He says “Religion is just a word. My religion is God, so I try to play for Him. Hopefully one day, people can see Him through me. I try to be a better person, a better example because if I follow Him, I have to set an example for others.
Here are my takeaways from Inciarte’s story.
1- I have to set an example for others – There is a true statement that someone made once about examples. It says “You are always an example for others, are you being a good example or a bad one?” What kind of example am I? Do my words reflect what I claim to believe? Do my actions line up with my words? A verse that has meant a lot to me is 1 Timothy 4.12. It says “ Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Those 5 areas really cover all of life. How can we be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity? For me, it comes down to understanding/admitting what God has done in my life. It is like in Acts 4.20. Peter and John stirred up the city by healing a lame man at the temple. The leaders didn’t know what to do with them, so they decided to warn the two of them not to speak anymore about this healing or about Jesus. Peter answers “We cannot stay quiet about what we have seen and heard”. What have you seen and heard God do in your life? How have you experienced His love, forgiveness and Supernatural work? It had become so engrained in their lives that it came out of them, and they knew that they wouldn’t be able to hold it in. I pray that we all are so moved by what God has been doing in us that we are unable to hold it in either. Inciarte said “If I follow Him, I have to set an example for others.”
2- Pray for others – I speak often about hard things that we go through. Let’s also remember that even if we are not in the midst of trouble and pain, we don’t have to look very far to find others in a hard situation. Inciarte is playing baseball and playing at a high level. He implied that baseball is a time when he can take his mind off of the trouble in his Homeland. But every day he is praying for the people there and the battle for liberty that they are fighting. Even if we are from here or our home is not in some form of political unrest the truth is that there is a world around us that are not living in the freedom that comes from knowing and living for Jesus. Pray for opportunities to share that freedom with them through your encouragement, your words and your example.