We talked with former Major League first baseman Adam LaRoche about his faith journey, how he’s living in the increase of Christ, and the mentors that have impacted his life. Here’s what he had to say.
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
I would hope that my faith affects every part of my lifestyle. If not, that’s what I’m working toward. I’ve seen a picture drawn with different circles: one for your family, one for your finances, one for your recreation, one for your work, and one for your spiritual life. The question is then posed, if you had to create percentages for these areas of your life so that the circles could represent them, how big would each circle be? In my mind, the spiritual circle should encompass them all—the Lord is a part of everything I do. I don’t believe that we should just dedicate time on Sunday to the Lord, leaving Him out of every other part of our life. But at one time that’s exactly what I thought God was asking from me—to pray before bed, go to church on Sundays and do a study with teammates. Since then I’ve had a heart change and I want every aspect of my life to reflect that.
Describe how your journey with Christ began.
I grew up always going to church with my family but my biggest fear for a long time was whether or not I would be going to hell. My whole goal in life was to do whatever I needed to do to be on the other side of the cut line—going up or going down. That’s a really risky place to be but so many of us are there. We think that we can ride the fence, and maybe we don’t even know that we are riding it. We think because we’ve said a certain prayer and know the “right” things to do—go to church, read the Bible, and pray—we’re in.
I don’t necessarily have a “come to Jesus moment,” but over time I’ve been growing in wisdom and guidance. About the time that I entered the Big Leagues, I started asking the questions, “What am I here for? What’s my purpose?” And God continually brought people into my life—my wife, chaplains, teammates and others—who I was bale to draw either little nuggets or big chunks of truth from. As I did so, I slowly put together what the truth of the Gospel really means. I’m always going to be a work in progress, but today I am sure of where I am going because of the grace of God.
Today my biggest fear isn’t whether or not I’m going to hell, I know where I’m going. Now my biggest fear is whether or not others around me are going to hell. I never want to find out that because I didn’t have enough courage to talk to people about Christ, they are not spending eternity with the Savior. When I meet Jesus face to face, I don’t want Him to say, “You’re in, but look at how many opportunities you missed to share Me with these people who haven’t heard the truth?”
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
During my early days with Atlanta, I met Chaplain Tim Cash, who was probably the first pastor I had ever been around that seemed to be really real with me. Now that I have a lot of pastor friends, I know how hard of a job that is. Many feel like they can’t be real with people for fear of their job or fear of tainting the Gospel, but Tim didn’t care about job security, he was going to flat out say what he thought. It was refreshing to be around a chaplain/pastor who wasn’t afraid to talk about the true struggles with men.
Another mentor of mine is Francis Chan. He is someone who I really respect because of his wisdom and bluntness. I often text him for advice or to just pick his brain to get his opinions and wisdom. I look up to him because I know that He stands strong in his faith.
What does the Increase of Christ mean to you?
When I think of increasing Christ, I think of us having to decrease. In Matthew, we see the disciples asking Jesus what they have to do to get to heaven. Jesus then talks about the commandments but ends with the charge that he who is greatest in this life will be the least in heaven, and those who are the least in this life will be the greatest in the end. If that is going to be true, we better take that seriously now! We need to find ways to lessen ourselves because it is distasteful to God when we are boastful and without humility today.
What is your life verse? Why?
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” —1 Corinthians 16:13-14
This verse sums up a lot of things that I have gone through or am going through now. I can relate pretty much any situation that I’m going through to this truth in order to draw from it the strength and encouragement I need.
Check out Adam’s profile on The Increase: https://theincrease.com/author/adam-laroche/
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