EDITORS’ NOTE: BP Sports columnist Tim Ellsworth recently visited Florida to do a series of stories on spring training as baseball players get ready to begin a new season.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (BP)–When Houston Astros outfielder Luke Scott was a boy, his father made a bold decision for his family. It was a life-changing and eternity-changing decision.
Scott’s parents were raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses. But Scott’s dad concluded that he wasn’t on the right path. Scott remembers a conversation his father had with him, his brother and his sister.
“Look guys, I don’t have the answers to everything,” Scott said his dad told them. “This is all I’ve ever known, but I know it’s not the right thing.”
Scott said his dad had been reading the Bible for himself, so he and his family left the cult behind, embracing the Bible alone as the new authority for their lives. And though Scott didn’t immediately become a Christian, his dad’s decision laid the groundwork for Scott to come to faith in Christ later in life.
When Scott left home for college, his mother gave him a Bible to read.
“She made me read at least five minutes every day,” Scott said. “If not, she was going to hound on me and nag on me until I gave in.”
Scott acquiesced to his mother’s wishes, and through reading the Bible he came to know who the Lord was. He started in the New Testament and read all the way through.
But still, Scott wasn’t a believer. It wasn’t until June 9, 2001, when Scott was 22 that he trusted in Jesus Christ for his salvation.
“I always believed that there was a God, and I believed in Jesus Christ, but my life never lined up with it,” Scott said. “I just didn’t know Him personally. And when you don’t know Him personally, you look for the things of the world to satisfy or fill that emptiness inside of you. The only way I found that was through the Lord.”
Since his conversion, Scott has remained committed to reading the Bible regularly. He said it provides him with the wisdom and strength he needs to be faithful to the Lord.
“There are many challenges,” Scott said about living the Christian life as a professional baseball player. “It’s not easy. It’s not easy in any type of job. You’re going to receive persecution for your faith. People are going to belittle you and talk down to you. That’s OK. God’s Word says that we are going to receive persecution. We’re going to have trials and tribulations. The world’s going to hate us, just like they hated Jesus.”
But while Scott understands that he faces challenges that are similar to people in any profession, he also recognizes that he has to fight against some temptations that are more specific to his job.
“The devil basically has a spread table for you of the finest temptations of the world at this level,” he said. “You have fame, notoriety. You run into money. All the physical attractions that you can possibly lay your eyes on are at your beck and call.”
Scott knows what that life is like, however, and he doesn’t want to go back to it.
“I lived that life before when I didn’t know Jesus,” he said. “It was an empty feeling then. I know what it’s like and it’s not worth it. It’s not fulfilling. The desires are still there because I’m a man just like everyone else. I just pray to God and devote that time to the Lord, and I ask for Him to give me strength, and He does.”
On the field, Scott said since he became a Christian he’s become even more conscious of the way he reacts to frustrations and disappointments. Scott describes himself as a passionate person with a competitive spirit, so there are times when that inner fire can get him into trouble.
Maybe he got under a pitch that he should have driven into the gap. Maybe he didn’t get an adequate jump on the ball. Maybe he got caught taking a called third strike.
Whatever the case, Scott is always mindful of those who are watching him, and he doesn’t want in any way to embarrass himself or the Lord.
“Even though we’re Christians, we’re still men, and every man has different reactions,” Scott said. “They have different ways they go about their business. As for me, you won’t see me throw my helmet too often or my bat. I used to.”
But now, with Christ in his life, Scott says he’ll go behind closed doors if he needs to release any anger, where it’s not open to the public.
“I just try to keep in mind that I represent the Lord,” he said. “I represent myself. I represent my family. People are watching. I have this platform and I know who I represent, and I have to watch my actions.”
Scott said he’s also learned to deal with the reality of baseball and not get too worked up about failure. He still wants to win and to play well, but he knows he’s never going to be perfect on the diamond.
“You can’t hit 1.000,” Scott said. “Jesus could, but I can’t.”