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I Don't Fit Into the Club
Welcome to another Thursday UNFILTERED substack article, the only substack newsletter that is grateful that thoughts don’t appear in bubbles over the heads of humans. It would be mortified to know what you’re always thinking.
Recently, I’ve been working on a project at the request of some of you, and it will be unveiled next Thursday. So stay tuned.
Now for today’s feature.
Since I began writing these weekly articles in June 2008, occasionally someone will send me a note indicating that they misunderstood me.
In virtually every case, they didn’t read the entire article. So they didn’t “get the joke” (so to speak) at the end.
This article is especially prone to misunderstanding. So be sure to read it all to the end.
On March 24 of this year, Amazon Prime dropped a new documentary about the baseball superstar Reggie Jackson.
If you heard episode #181 of the Christ is All podcast, I was asked about my 20 favorite things in life.
One of the questions was on my favorite athlete.
My answer: Reggie Jackson (of Yankees and Oakland As fame).
I frankly shared my thoughts about the epic power hitter.
Jackson’s first year with the Yankees was 1977. And that season serves as a metaphor for me personally.
The events Jackson experienced that year reflect a specific time in my own life spiritually.
This includes the heartache and pain as well as the three consecutive home runs he hit in Game 6 of the ’77 World Series to win the series and end the season (which for him was ultimate vindication).
For this reason, I only own one kind of baseball card. I’ve got every Reggie Jackson card made from his rookie year to the last year he played in MLB.
In addition, I have a plaque that displays three photos of him hitting his three home runs (all on the first pitch and from three different pitchers).
(By the way, if you have access to CNN, there’s another recent documentary called “Yankees-Dodgers: An Uncivil War.” Parts of that documentary involving Jackson were Déjà vu for me. Yes, Déjà vu all over again.)
Anyways, in the new documentary called “Reggie” (on Amazon Prime), the baseball legend told the story of how he was hindered from buying a baseball team, even though Bill Gates was his partner on the project.
Reggie’s words were,
“I don’t fit into the club. I spoke my mind too much. I feel that my content was wasted. They don’t want me inside the tent. I gotta peer through the glass, press my face against the window.”
Indeed, there’s a good ol’ boys club in baseball, and Reggie never fit into it.
Partly because of his skin color, but also because he’s someone who spoke his mind.
Yet even more than that (and Reggie didn’t talk much about this), there was tremendous jealousy involved.
When a guy like Reggie Jackson shows up with his mind-bending talent and breakthrough salary (the highest at the time), envy is inevitable.
Not just from fellow players, but from management.
Even so, Jackson, despite his flaws (which all of us have) has long been regarded as a truth-teller.
Regrettably, the contemporary Christian world is quite similar to the world of baseball.
By that statement, I’m not focusing on the racial element (though I’m sure that’s present too).
I’m instead highlighting the fact that there’s a good ol’ boys club in evangelical Christianity today.
And if you’re a truth-teller, you don’t fit into the club.
You won’t be invited to speak in certain conferences (even those that are dedicated to your area of expertise).
Some pastors will never invite you to speak to their congregations (even though they’ll privately tell you that your books have deeply altered their lives).
You won’t be promoted by many of the leading voices in the Christian world. And you and your message will be intentionally ignored.
In the religious world of Jesus’ day, there was an establishment. And your Lord didn’t fit into it.
Jealousy plays a big part of this. The fear of being outshined.
The typical Christian who consumes the content of today’s celebrity Christian leaders is blissfully unaware of any of this. But it’s alive and well.
The new documentary about Reggie Jackson not only underscored this for me, but it encouraged me to continue to not compromise.
Speaking metaphorically, I’d rather hit three homers in one World Series than to allow myself to compromise and be accepted into the good ol’ boys network.
By God’s grace and mercy, I’ve already experienced my version of three home runs in one game in the past (they followed an excruciating season with my own “Billy Martin”).
And I’m optimistic it will happen again.
What’s my point in telling you this?
Since 2015, I’ve been holding annual Masterminds for Christian leaders. Many of those who have participated are highly gifted pastors and teachers.
But most of them feel invisible.
They believe they aren’t making an impact nor receiving opportunities they deserve.
This article is for them and for everyone else who has a contribution to the body of Christ and feels the same way.
My point, therefore, is simple.
Do not compromise. And never sell out. (See Law #29 in 48 Laws of Spiritual Power for more on the perils of compromise.)
If obscurity is the price you have to pay, it’s worth it.
In the end, only the applause of heaven will count.
Everything else will be dust in the wind.
At the same time, if you’re being faithful to the purpose of God, the Lord will bring a few Nicodemus’ your way who are part of the establishment.
Out of fear, they will come to you in the cloak of darkness and never make it public.
Don’t turn them away. But also don’t be afraid to call them “Nicodemus” with a smile. ;-)
I applaud Reggie for appearing on the documentary and speaking his truth.
Without which, this article would have never been written.
Until next Thursday.
Yours in speaking our mind,
For more, check out Christian Stuff That’s Not Boring
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Frank doesn’t profit personally from his ministry. He generously sends out a fresh new article every Thursday (there are over 1,000 on the blog). Also, a new podcast episode drops every other Tuesday on his two podcasts (combined there are almost 300 episodes). While all of these resources are without cost to you, they require time and money to produce. Therefore, if you would like to donate to help defray the costs and/or express appreciation, there are three ways to donate, all of them simple. Go to the Donations Page for information.