Home Plate is seventeen inches wide.  It doesn’t matter what league you are playing in, what level you are playing at, how old you are or how young you are…it’s seventeen inches.

There is a wondeful story going around about an old coach who is now long dead but who gave a passionate and impressive speech at a gathering of Baseball Coaches in Nashville many years ago.  He implored coaches to never widen the plate.  The old coach said the problem with society is that we are widening the plate.  If Johnny can’t get the ball over the plate we just widen the plate so he can succeed.  That doesn’t work, never has, doesn’t now and won’t in the future.  It doesn’t help Johnny and it doesn’t help the game.  Whether you play in Little League, Babe Ruth leagues, College, Minor Leagues or the Major Leagues the width of the plate is the width of the plate…period.

Of course the old coach wasn’t really talking about baseball as much as he was using baseball and home plate as a metaphor about not changing the standards, not shaving the numbers, not lowering the expectations in order for everyone to succeed or everyone to feel good about themselves.  And that’s exactly what I’m seeing a lot of these days.

Can’t make the grades ,,, we’ll just give everyone a feel good grade.  Can’t make the team…everyone makes the team.  Can’t earn the Perfect Attendance Pin in Sunday School … we’ll just change the definition of “perfect attendance” to “majority of the time attendance”.  Can’t give ten percent of our income for the work of the Lord, we’ll just say “whatever you feel good about” is good enough for the Lord.

Do you think that works?  Do you agree with lowering the standards so everyone can meet them?  Do you think “always” equals “most of the time” or “perfect” equals “sort of perfect”?  Do you think standards matter?  Do you think the church should have expectations of its members?  Do you think being an elder or a deacon or a leader in the church means you have the same standards as just being a member or it implies a higher standard?

I’m just asking.  What do you think?  I think the old coach was on to something.  Home Plate is seventeen inches wide, no more, no less.  I think our children and young people deserve standards that count.  I think they expect and deserve expectations of what it means to be a good person, a follower of the Lord, a Christian and by all means a member of the church.  I don’t want to be a part of the church of no standards.  I don’t want to widen the plate, and I don’t think most people do either.  We know what is right.  We know what is good.  We know what it means to be a faithful member of our church.  We know what a faithful church means too.  I see us changing the standards or lowering the standards all the time.

We need an agreed upon standard.  If it’s seventeen inches, so be it.  We need to hold ourselves to a standard.  If we fail to hold ourselves to the right standards or we are unwilling or unable to do so then we fail.  May we all remember…Home Plate is what it is, not what we re-write it to be.

Dr Bob