Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton hadn’t won a game in 8 weeks. The press was suggesting that he be dropped from the starting lineup. The future looked bleak, and Sutton felt terrible. Then, before a game, Dodgers manager Walter Alston tapped him on the shoulder. "I’d like to speak with you, Don," he said.
Sutton prepared for the worst. "Don," said Alston, "I know how the past couple of months have been for you. Everyone’s wondering whether we can make it to the playoffs. You know there’s a lot of pressure. I’ve had to make a decision." Sutton had visions of being taken off the mound. Alston continued, "If the Dodgers are going to win this year," he said, looking Sutton in the eye, "they’re going to win with Don Sutton pitching. Come what may, you’re staying in the starting lineup. That’s all I wanted to say."
Sutton’s losing streak lasted 2 more weeks, but because of his manager’s encouragement he felt different. Something in him was turning around. He found himself pitching the best ball of his career. In the National League pennant drive, he won 13 games out of 14.
There are all kinds of theories about how to motivate people. We can do it through guilt, fear or shame. But overall these were not Jesus’ methods. Jesus motivated through positive messages of hope and encouragement.
Jesus told those at the Sermon on the Mount. You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. What kind of people did he say this to? Farmers, fishermen, tax collectors, housewives, all in a tiny remote village in an obscure part of the world. Talk about a statement of faith. It must have sounded absurd at the time even to them.
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