The fuel for spiritual growth

For the last few years I have had the privilege to help coach a few baseball teams. It has been an amazing experience of learning the game and learning how to help young men develop into the best baseball player that they can be. When a player is coachable, it is amazing to see how they grow and change over the course of the season. When a player is self-motivated, the growth is exponential.

While the joys are incalculable, the hardest part is having to tell parents the truth about the ability of their son. Every parent that pays the money to play high level travel sports believes that their son is the best player on the team. Often, this is because on their house or rec teams they were. They may even have been the best player in their league. Yet, when they join a high level team, every kid was the best somewhere.

There comes a point in the life of a competitive athlete that the “equal play for pay” comes to an end. This is typically around the age of 15 or 16. In baseball, the hardest conversation that I’ve experienced is when it becomes apparent that a player is no longer a “two way” player. Often this means that someone has become a pitcher only or is a player that will more times than not be DH’ed for. The truth is that at some point different aspects of the game bypass certain individuals. It’s hard to hear and especially for parents of players who become pitchers, it’s painful.

Yet, if these young men who have tremendous talent as pitchers would embrace this identity, the sky is the limit. If they and their parents would hear the truth and develop their exceptional skill set they would experience so much more joy and success.

Truth is hard to hear.Truth is even harder to accept.

None of us like to hear truth. None of us. I don’t. You don’t. Your neighbor doesn’t. But, the simple fact remains if we do not hear and embrace truth then we will not be able to grow and change.

If grace is foundational to growth and time is the key to growth, then truth is the fuel for growth.

For most of my life I have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight. I recently began going to the doctor because I realized that I need to. Being over 40 and overweight the need for medical oversight is pretty important, particularly because I’d like to live long enough to be a grandfather. There’s nothing that prepares for you the hard truth of medicine. My doctor is kind and has a great bedside manner. He is approachable, funny, and yet shoots it straight. When I left after my first appointment I was reading over my paperwork and I saw the words, “morbidly obese.” That is truth. That is a truth that I don’t want to hear, but if I’m going to ever get to a place of physical health I have to hear that truth and embrace it.

When we consider our spiritual lives, or any aspect of our lives, we must be willing to hear truth. Truth provides the fuel for our growth and change. It is often what triggers kairos moments for us to help take next steps.

My friend Todd refers to spiritual truth as the “Waller 2x4.”

That’s how truth often works, it seems to hit us blindside like a 2x4 and as we stare at ourselves we can’t help but think, how did I miss this before?

Over the last few weeks life has been very heavy for my family. We have been walking through some tough life stuff. Nothing that’s out of the ordinary for the course of a life, but it’s been hard nonetheless. I had to hear some truth from my wife and I responded in the moment, oh so well (please hear the sarcasm). A little while later the truth of the matter and the reality of the situation landed like an atomic in my soul. I sought forgiveness and took some time to take some stock of what was going on in me. This truth has helped me recognize some besetting issues that I need to continually address.

I thought that I had a better handle on them, but it turns out that I did not.

“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is.” — C.S. Lewis

What sort of man am I? I am one that is still imperfect. One that has much room to grow. When I can’t control everything in my life, I smolder and get frustrated easily. The time between being an ass and realization of being an ass is shrinking. That gap is shrinking because the time it takes for me to embrace truth is shrinking.

My friends, truth is the fuel for growth. We must be willing to speak to one another in the context of grace and time. We must be willing to hear it from one another believing the best that those around us want to help us grow.

Originally published at on December 10, 2019.