When I was a child, there was an excitement every morning. We had a front porch that made a good landing spot for the newspaper deliverer to launch the daily paper. So every day, whether they had tucked it in between the screen door and the main door, or whether they had launched it from the sidewalk onto the porch, there was a gift waiting for me.
The sports page.
The treasure I waited for every morning.
Whether I was leaving for school or whether it was vacation, there was a race to get to the paper before my father, and spend a little time with the sports page, where all my joys came true. I could see not only the scores of all the games from the night before that I had to miss because of bedtime. I could read the summary, follow the storyline of everything that happened with the local teams who played the sports that I loved to play. But there was more.
There were numbers!
The morning sports page had my two loves built into one: sports and numbers.
It was from the sports page that I came to understand what a batting average was, and how it was calculated. A pitcher’s earned run average, a hitter’s slugging percentage. How to calculate winning percentages, games behind, plus field goal percentages, and everything else that sports stats put on those pages. Experimenting with a calculator in my hand, I learned the patterns in percentages and fractions, and I could do them in my head. I learned how to arrange and label data, how to calculate in my head, plus how to make approximations and estimations – because all those numbers had a real, hands-on meaning. I spent my own time and energy, followed my own passion, as the numbers said something about playing the sports that I loved.
When I started my new school in seventh grade, I got recruited for the math team. I ended up winning the city-wide competition. Later there were awards in college and grad school for engineering. Yeah, I have real talent for all of that. But my real learning wasn’t so much in the classroom. It came out of my passion.
When Jesus called the disciples, it wasn’t to a classroom with chairs and a whiteboard, or to a hall with a speaker, or a Youtube channel. It wasn’t to a program or school institution that awarded degrees. It was a call right into the passion of living real life. It’s because it’s only in living what we’re passionate about, that we get inspired to develop all our gifts and talents.
God has put gifts and talents in each of us. But that’s not all – He’s also given us a way to develop them.
What is your passion?
“They left everything and followed him.” (Lk 5:11)