Written by Jeff Stanger
What’s Your Job? Culture teaches us from an early age that our career is our purpose in life. But what if Kingdom purpose were your true career, and the job you do each day just a vehicle for carrying out your “Kingdom Career?” Recently I sat down with Justin Masterson, former MLB pitcher to talk about his transition out of baseball. Through our Q & A, he gave me a new perspective on what my true career is as a Christian.
Q: The average person will change careers at least 3 times in their life. You’re going through that now. How does your faith impact that transition?
A: “My faith makes the transition super smooth because, as crazy as it sounds, my career has not changed. When I started playing baseball professionally, it was a means to live out my love for God and imperfectly tell people why I love Him so much. My faith allows me to go about things differently than how the typical athlete might. It also helped me see the stress and difficulty that baseball was putting on my family and make the decision to step away and not need to prove myself worthy in the game of baseball.”
Q: What is the hardest part of this transition for you? For your family?
A: “Though my Kingdom Career continues, there is still some minor sadness. I will miss the physical playing of the game and battling with my teammates each day and watching them improve both physically and mentally. Getting used to being together again is always a minor struggle–melding our schedules and the way we perform certain tasks differently. But in the end, just like any team, we work better when we are together.”
Fame, wealth, and power each have their own pitfalls and temptations. Justin was able to navigate those with his faith and family intact. I asked him about how he managed to keep focused.
Q: During your playing days, there were probably many temptations. For someone in a leadership role, what advice/scripture would you share that helped keep you grounded and centered during those times?
A: “Luke 12:48 ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’ In life we’ve been called to a higher standard and though we are all gifted and given different skills and talents, we are held accountable. As you read the context in Luke, Jesus is giving an ‘or else’ type talk. There is nothing wrong with desiring excellence from yourself. Not so you can feel better than the guy next to you, but because you are living up to the potential that God has planned for you by putting you in such a leadership role. Col. 3:23 wraps it up, ‘What you do, work at it with all your heart, as work for the Lord, not for human masters.’”
Surrounding ourselves with good influences is critical to accomplishing a Kingdom Career. There is a saying that you are the average of the five people you hang around most. Justin discussed some of the positive influences in his life. One of those included Hall of Fame inductee Tony Gwynn.
Q: What impact did Tony Gwynn have on you as a player and a person?
A: “Tony showed me how to be a professional and how to go about my business on and off the field with respect to any person that came my way. He made time for everyone and signed autographs before and after games for fans. He showed humility and respect in how he interacted with his coaches and players. And he did all this as one of the greatest hitters ever in the game of baseball, which is why I wasn’t surprised to know of his faith in Jesus.”
Q: Did any other players/coaches have a significant impact on your life/career?
A: “Throughout my life there have been countless players and coaches who have impacted my life and career. Coaches from John Kinsel to Randy McCaslin to Coach Smith to Coach Woolf to Terry Francona to Gary Tuck and everyone in between and after. When you understand that not everything someone says is beneficial but that everyone could have something beneficial to say, more people are able to speak into your life. Now to them, I still may have seemed hard headed, but I was listening and watching all that they did. And players have impacted me, from Javier Lopez to Alex Cora to Dustin Pedroia to Grady Sizemore to Travis Hafner – and that is just the tip of the iceberg in my life. When I would do any interviews I would always say “We” instead of “I” unless something went wrong then “I” would take full responsibility. But everyone would ask, “who is this ‘we’ you talk about?” And I would always respond that I didn’t get here on my own, I can’t do what I do on my own, I have God, my catcher, and a whole host of people who have invested in me and brought me to where I am. Therefore my response is always “we” until I screw up, and then it’s just me!”
Of course, you can’t have a conversation with a former Major Leaguer and not ask who they enjoyed watching play.
Q: When you played, was there any player that you just had to stop and watch (hit or pitch)? In other words, did anyone momentarily turn you from a player to a fan?
A: ”No offense to any of the players out there, but there were only two guys that you just had to watch. The first was at the tail end of his career, but Ken Griffey Jr. was the only guy who came to bat facing me, who I would throw four straight balls because I was mesmerized. He was at the end of his career with the Reds, but I grew up watching him and he had such a presence as he made his way to the batters box. The other player was Roy Halladay, who unfortunately has passed. But as a fellow sinker ball thrower, even if I was pitching opposite to him in a game, I would still marvel at the way he could manipulate the baseball and the hitter.”
Justin Masterson’s career in baseball may have drawn to a close, but his Kingdom Career is still in full swing. As he waits on the Lord to show him specific next steps, you can bet that Justin will be impacting lives for eternity, just as he did during his career in the major leagues.
Behind The Mitt
Q: What was your first job?
A: Mowing Mrs. Martin’s yard and the church yard!
Q: If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
A: Warning: Don’t mistake kindness for weakness!
Q: What’s your favorite fast food chain?
A: Lee’s Famous Recipe with In-N-Out burger as a close second.
Q: Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
A: Most actors are little guys, so I ‘d need Vince Vaughn to represent me.
Q: What would you sing at Karaoke night?
A: I Can Love You Like That by All-4-One.
Q: What’s your Starbucks order?
A: Mocha Frappuccino, or whatever else tastes like a milkshake.
Meet Justin at The Multiply Conference 2018, November 8-9. Visit multiply2018.com for more info.