Turn Setbacks into Comebacks

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Concordia University Texas First Pitch Dinner. This event was significant for two reasons. One is because I am a huge supporter of Concordia and all that they do to Develop Christian Leaders. The second reason is because of who the keynote speaker was for the event. It was a former Major League Baseball player named Dave Dravecky.

Dave Dravecky was a very good left-handed pitcher in the 1980’s for the San Diego Padres and most notably, the San Francisco Giants. In 1988, a cancerous tumor was discovered in his pitching arm. It was removed along with, more than 50 percent of his deltoid muscle. He was told that short of a miracle, he would never pitch again. He did not accept that and 10 months later he was back on the mound in San Francisco facing the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched eight innings to get the win. He turned his setback into a miraculous comeback! But five days later he suffered yet another setback as he fell off the mound following a pitch and broke his arm. He later broke it again and the cancer came back. He ended up losing his full arm, shoulder, and half his collar bone. His career was over. He was no longer a professional baseball player.

When I was a kid, my dad gave me a copy of one of the books Dave Dravecky had written. I still remember reading that book and many of his others. I was so excited to be able to hear Dave speak and actually meet this man who has overcome so much and inspired so many. He travels around now sharing his story. The part of his story that inspires me the most is how honest he has been with his struggles. Yes, he overcame something most people could not imagine, but he does not make it seem like it was easy. He shares how his marriage suffered. His relationship with his kids suffered. And he went through a deep depression.

It took him some time to realize his true worth. He was never just a baseball player. That just used to be his job. That’s not what mattered most to him. He is a servant of God first and foremost. He is a husband and a father. He is now a grandfather. Dave Dravecky understands the difference between success and significance. He has experienced success on the biggest of all stages, but he now experiences significance. He focuses on what matters most. He understands that it is not about what you do or what you get on the way up, it is about who you are and what you leave behind.

It was a privilege for me to meet Dave Dravecky and hear him speak. It was even greater because I got to share the experience with my dad, who is the one who introduced me to Dave and his story many years ago (when I was only eight years old). He also is who I learned about significance from. I urge you to learn more about Dave Dravecky’s story. Read some of his books. I highly recommend When You Can’t Comeback and The Worth of a Man. We all have things we must overcome to become the person we are called to be. Perhaps Dave’s story, his struggles can help you or someone you know.

I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Dave’s book, When You Can’t Comeback. “May He give you the strength to turn all your setbacks into comebacks. And when you can’t come back, may He give you the grace to put your hand in His-even if you have only one hand to give-and there may you find peace.”

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