Spreading His Gift

Joe Carter knows Christ is the true leader in his life

by John Dodderidge

Joe Carter is currently in his 16th season as a major league baseball player. He has enjoyed a remarkable career that was highlighted by a home run he hit in the 1993 World Series. His bottom of the ninth blast ended the `93 World Series and gave the Toronto Blue Jays their second straight championship.

Carter, who played seven seasons in Toronto, signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles in the offseason. He will likely hang up his spikes after this season to spend more time with his family in Leawood, Kansas.

A humble servant, Carter knows he didn’t get to where he is today by himself. He gives full credit to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He shared his story at an offseason event at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes national office in Kansas City. Here is a little sampling of what he shared that day:

On Honoring Jesus:
"I am thankful and I give honor to God and to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And I say that because you see a lot of athletes nowadays on TV say, `I want to thank God for what he’s done for me.’ But what God are they really talking about? I found myself listening to that and said, `I want to be different, because I want to leave no doubt as to who I am talking about and who I’m serving and that is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.’ I want to really emphasize that because He is the true leader of my life and that’s the way I want to be remembered."

On His Baseball Career:
"I’ve had a very prosperous and great career. I can go on and on and look at all that I’ve accomplished and it’s not because of what I’ve done, but because of how I’ve lived my life and how I’ve lived it for Jesus. I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate to play 15 years. There’s not one thing I would change. Every day I go out and enjoy what I do. God has given me a great talent to play baseball. So many times we take things for granted. I know I’ve worked as hard as I can and it’s because of Jesus Christ."

On High School Success:
"Growing up (in Oklahoma City), my whole life was built around sports. I grew up going to church. I went to church because that was the thing to do. As I got a little older, I started making my own decision. I started to notice a difference. After about a week of winning a state championship in football, the euphoria was gone. I found out there was something else. I said this is not what life is all about. We won the state championship in basketball and I still felt the same way."

On College Experience:
"After I went to college (at Wichita State), I roomed with a guy from St. Louis. After his first year, he suffered an injury. To see so much taken away from him, he went from talking about football to thanking God. He gave God the credit, even in the down time. I met a woman named Diana (Whom he later married) from the Kansas City area and she was a Christian. These people were put in front of me and I could not hide from God. That’s how He got my attention, putting those two people in my life.

"It was at that time in my life that I realized I wanted to experience a relationship with Jesus Christ myself. In August of 1980 I gave my life to Christ; not because my parents made me do it, but because I wanted to do it. It was my decision and a decision I can live with now and say that I made the right decision."

On Giving Thanks:
"I stand here not because I have fame or money or because I play on TV or hit a World Series home run. That doesn’t matter. I stand here as a humble person because I know He could have picked someone else. In His Word He says, `the least of us shall be first.’ When I look up, I realize I am blessed and I say thank you Jesus for all you have done for me because without you I would be nothing.

"I speak to a lot of kids and I let them know we have a few differences: `I’m older than you are and have had a chance to experience things that you have not experienced yet. God is on your side and God gives us all a gift and it’s what we do with that gift that makes us the better person."

On God’s Victory:
"There’s only one thing for certain, God promises us victory. He never promises us we’ll be ahead at halftime or leading after three quarters. He said when that final gun sounds, you will be victorious. I live my life for Him. I know I’m not perfect. Jesus is the only one who is perfect. No matter what we do, keep your eyes focused on what is above. If you have Christ on your side, you’ll conquer. I thank God for the platform He has given me."

Reprinted by permission, Sharing the Victory