We talked with international baseball player Xavier Scruggs about his faith journey, how he’s living in the increase of Christ, and the mentors who have impacted his life. Here’s what he had to say:
What effect does your faith have on your lifestyle?
Being a professional baseball player gives me a lot of down time, but it also means a lot of travel time. It’s easy to lose focus on what’s important if I’m not in the Word of God continually and making sure my prayer life is in order. As a professional athlete, there are so many temptations around me — money, women, drugs, and other things that go on in this scene. Without a faith in Christ, and knowing this comes first and foremost, you can easily get lost in that lifestyle.
My faith keeps me grounded and focused on the right things. And with two kids, it’s important for me to have my eggs in order, knowing that the reason I do what I choose to do is for my family. So as soon as I wake up each day, I dive into the Word and prayer because I need to be armored with His truth.
Can you describe how your journey with Christ began?
I was raised in a Christian home. My parents and I went to church almost every Sunday, but I didn’t really understand who Jesus was until later. I went to UNLV in Las Vegas for college and during my freshman and sophomore years, I got off track — partying and drinking. I was trying to live the Las Vegas lifestyle, but soon found it wasn’t for me. Then my sophomore and junior year I had a mentor, the campus baseball chaplain, who helped me get back on track. He helped me discover who Jesus is and that no matter what mistakes I might make, He would still love me.
I began asking the question, “Who is this person who gave His life for me and would choose to love me, and everyone else, even though we’re all sinners?” I dove into the study of who Jesus is and why He loves me. That’s when I rededicated my life to Jesus. Baseball can be taken away from me at anytime, but Jesus will always be there for me. The fact that He sacrificed His life for me is serious. I really had to look at myself in the mirror and ask if I wanted to call myself a follower of Christ or not.
Who have been the mentors in your life? How did God bring these people into your life?
Steve Timmons was our UNLV campus baseball chaplain, who took me aside every now and then to dive into more serious matters. There weren’t many guys who went to chapel so I got a lot of one on one time with him to study the Word and talk about prayer life.
When I was in high school, Dave Justice, who played with the Braves, was very instrumental for me. Then when I went to play with the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday each had a huge impact on me. They were men I wanted to watch — to look up to and see what they’re doing.
What does the increase of Christ mean to you?
When I think about the idea of Christ increasing in my life, I think of how I am supposed to be lifting up those around me. I should never be the focus, I want to glorify Chrsit and bring praise to Him at any and every moment. I don’t want the glory, the glory should be redirected to Him!
I have a small opportunity to be a light to every person in my life in every situation. And as that light comes out of me to others, they are then able to shine that light to others. That’s how the glory of Christ gets multiplied and my life becomes about so much more than me.
What is your life verse and why?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 became a much more meaningful verse to me once I became a father. For God to give His only Son now means God sacrificed something that, to me, is unimaginable to give up. Now that I have two sons of my own, I wouldn’t have them taken away from me for anything in the world! Suddenly, such a popular verse took on a whole new, powerful meaning. Now that I know the extent to how much God loves me, I need to ask myself how I can best bring glory to Him.
My faith has grown so much since becoming a father. I want them to grow up knowing their father is faithful to seek God’s truth and sure about what He believes so that they can be too. I want to have the answers to questions about God’s Word so I can help them understand and find these answers for themselves. I don’t want them to see any lukewarmness in me. I want my kids to see that their dad is committed to the truth and knows his God personally.
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