NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Ben Zobrist came to appreciate the importance of the local church at a young age.
The son of a pastor, the Tampa Bay Rays shortstop grew up seeing the centrality the church played in the lives of believers. That upbringing instilled in Zobrist a servant’s heart and an appreciation for the work of pastors.
“He’s a man without guile,” said Byron Yawn, pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, Tenn., where Zobrist and his wife Julianna are members. “Ben is a very consistent, very unassuming man. He’s very content. No one would know he’s a professional athlete because of his heart and his disposition.”
Tim Dillard, a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, also is a member of the church, where he and Zobrist became fast friends.
“The first impression I got is, this guy has his act together,” Dillard said of Zobrist. “You can tell when people are really trusting in the Lord and following the Lord.”
Growing up in a pastor’s home helped Zobrist understand the challenges that pastors often face — and the significance of their ministry. Ben’s wife Julianna also is the child of a pastor.
“I see how our pastor at our church influences our lives, and how important he is in shepherding us, and my dad’s been doing that for people for 20 years, 25 years — the same thing that my pastor does on a regular basis,” Zobrist said. “It makes me appreciate both my dad and her dad more.” (His father, Tom, is pastor of Liberty Bible Church in Eureka, Ill.)
Zobrist has a desire to minister to pastors in any way he can. If they want to come to a baseball game, he wants to provide them with tickets. That may not help them fix their problems, but Zobrist said it might help them forget about their challenges and struggles for a while.
“We know with the kind of stuff they’re dealing with on a regular basis, for them to get away and enjoy a game every once in a while is a special thing,” Zobrist said.
That’s just one of the ways Zobrist tries to function as a member of the body of Christ, living out what God has called and equipped him to be.
“He considers his word to another person to be his bond,” Yawn said. “His commitments are a very high priority. He has a very deep, sincere desire to love Christ more than he did the day before.”
Tim Ellsworth directs BPSports (www.bpsports.net), the sports division of Baptist Press. He also is director of news and information at Union
University in Jackson, Tenn.