Shaped for a Purpose – Scott Linebrink
By: Scott Linebrink
November 7, 2016
The more I look back at my life and career in baseball, the more I realize that God uses every chapter of my life to prepare me for the next one. Baseball helped shape my identity and gave me many experiences, which prepared me for what was next.
Baseball is a game that causes you to always look for a finish line. Whether that is the finish line to your season or your career, you know that the end is coming soon. I loved playing professional baseball, but I always thought of it as a means to an end. I knew that it was equipping me to do something else afterward, but I didn’t know what that was.
Five years ago I retired from my 15-year career in professional baseball. For a time I took a break from work; it was nice to have no external obligations and nothing to worry about when I woke up. But during that time I read a book by Tim Keller called Every Good Endeavor. After reading that book, I realized that I needed a purpose for the rest of my life.
I started by going back to Concordia University in Austin, Texas to finish my degree in Environmental Science, which I had started before I entered the Big Leagues. I had hoped that through this schooling God would lead me to what was next for my life. During my time at Concordia, my friend, Don, introduced me to a new ministry: Water Mission.
When my wife and I learned about Water Mission and the work that they do to bring clean water and sanitation to underdeveloped communities around the world, we wanted to be involved. As donors, they invited us on a trip to Haiti to see firsthand the work that they were able to do with our donations. It was on that trip that I caught the true vision for what this organization does. I had heard the stories and seen the videos, but until I went and actually experienced this work, I hadn’t realized the full measure of the need that was being fulfilled in these places. I knew then that I had a great desire to pursue more involvement with this organization.
A little while later, we went on another trip with Water Mission to Honduras and it was during that trip, while I was in my last semester at Concordia, that I was offered a position. I prayed about this opportunity for a long time, and eventually, God made it obvious to me that this is where I needed to be.
As I mentioned earlier, Water Mission is a Christian engineering organization that provides safe water and sanitation to those in need. There is no typical project because every community has different needs and different barriers. As we go into a community, we assess their needs and how we can help. Our goal is to secure a dependable water source and make sure that it’s treated and safe to drink. We give the same water to the people in developing countries that we expect when we turn on our taps here in the States. We don’t want to give them a partially clean water source but a completely safe water source. By providing clean water, we are able to break through the cultural barriers, which allows us to share our faith in Jesus Christ.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” —Mark 12:31
We don’t have a single agenda to share the Gospel and then leave, we want to first enter into the hurts that these people have. Once we are able to meet the needs of these people, even in a small way, they open up. Seeing that we care about them, they want to know why we are doing what we are doing. We are then able to share a much more powerful testimony of the Gospel. That’s what God had in mind when He said to go into all the world.
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.’” —Mark 16:15
My job with Water Mission is to share the vision with others and develop partnerships with individuals, churches, and corporations so that they can be a part of the impact that we have around the world. We can make the plans and do the work but we need partners to help us make it possible to implement that work. It’s so neat to make the connections between those who are excited to give and those who are in great need. To see people around the world coming together to do what God has called us to do is simply amazing.
In the same way that I was brought to Haiti as a donor, I am now able to bring other donors to see firsthand the projects we’re working on and the impact that their donations are having. One of the things they see is that community development is our greatest goal. We follow up with each community we serve to make sure that they are educated and trained to take care of their health and the resources we give them. And ultimately, we want to make sure that they know the living water message that Jesus Christ has for them.
Water is a great metaphor for Jesus’ salvation but it’s also essential to human survival. Our lives depend on physical water, which we can provide to these people. In the same way, our souls are dependent on the living water that is found in Jesus Christ. That message, and the results that come from it, are incalculable.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.’” —Matthew 25:40
Whether someone is at the height of their career in baseball or transitioning out of the game, it’s important to know that there is something so much greater than ourselves. When we’re in the game, it’s easy to buy into the idea that we’re a big deal. But doing something missional (whether that be next door or across the world) takes the focus off of ourselves and puts it on God’s greater goal. God didn’t bless me with money and fame to bless me; He entrusted them to me to bless others.
As athletes, we are incredibly driven; we take pride in doing our work to the best of our ability. I take that same mindset and apply it to the work that I now do with Water Mission. I make sure I’m fully prepared to do the best job that I can, all for the glory of God.
Finding God’s will for our lives is the most important thing other than having a close relationship with Him to start with. I know that I’m just a vessel that God is using for His glory. And I know that God has given me different platforms and experiences throughout my life so that He can use them for His greater purpose.
Scott Linebrink is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Scott’s Increase profile here: http://theincrease.com/author/scott-linebrink/
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