Cardinals' Matheny Speaks at FCA Event
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH, KY - Lone Oak First Baptist Church was the setting for a banquet and presentation from the western Kentucky Fellowship of Christian Athletes, as they celebrated their work from the summer and fall, and listened to a keynote address from St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny. About 475 people were in attendance Saturday night for the "Game Changer Gathering."
Matheny spoke for about 50 minutes about how he was raised, how he came to know Jesus Christ as his Savior as a teen, and how he haltingly began to live that out in his daily life. He also described what he called "common traits of high achievers," which include perpetual learning, striving for excellence, "grinding out" the tasks, bringing contagious energy, and selflessly serving others. That last item is what he thinks separates his team from others, and it flies in the face of what many people are constantly whispering in players' ears, feeding their egos and focusing on salaries or statistics.
"When I see our team get that right, and I'm gonna tell you, if you enjoyed watching this team this year, you saw that. You saw selfless players. You saw guys that figured out a way. 'I'm gonna work with this young guy, he may take my job, but I'm gonna help him.' And it's amazing that becomes a culture," Matheny said.
He noted that self-sacrificing principle was modeled by Jesus, and he encouraged adults to help FCA by finding a little time in their busy schedules to pour into students' lives.
Matheny said he didn't realize how he was simply going through the motions in his faith life until a chaplain on a minor-league team pointed it out. Numerous times in high school or college, others would come to him and ask why he lived the way he did, and those were opportunities to tell about his faith, but he avoided it and talked about other things. The chaplain told him it was time to stand up and be bold.
"This gentleman continued to challenge me, he continued to feed me, he continued to help me grow to the point of realizing that I was in a mission field. My mission field might not have had me swatting flies in a third-world country, but inside that clubhouse, that was my mission field," Matheny said.
His family, along with those former teammates and current players, see how he handles success, failure, blame, and the roller coaster of life. Matheny said they are who he aims to serve and influence. He challenged those in attendance to figure out who their mission field is, and start serving them.
FCA the only organization in public schools where Jesus can openly be discussed. It's student-led, with coaches and other teachers as sponsors or facilitators.
FCA Regional Director Eric Grogan, who organized the banquet and oversees the ministry for 14 counties, said he was thrilled with the higher turnout than last year, and with Matheny's message.
Grogan said, "Really unbelievable. I knew that we were going to have probably a good crowd, but just seeing them all together, hearing him, and being together, was just a wonderful night."
Grogan said he was thankful for Matheny's ministry as a coach, father, and husband. His encouragement to everyone at the event was to be a "Game Changer" by getting involved with FCA.
Money raised from the event will help FCA hold summer camps for student leaders and for younger kids - led by those student leaders.