The Right Approach
Too young to remember the Island of Misfit Toys? They were a part of the now classic TV special “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Because Rudolph was not allowed to play in any of the reindeer games he ran away from home. In time he found himself on a strange island surrounded by some even stranger toys. Each of the toys that had been brought to this island had some pronounced defect or flaw. Remember? The winged lion that served as their king? The Charlie-in-the-Box? The dolly named Sue? The toy bird that swam instead of flying? The train with square wheels? The squirt gun that shot grape jelly? The elephant with pink polka dots? The tragedy was that these flaws had made them unloved and unwanted. And so, the lion had mercifully rescued them and brought them to his island to find refuge.
In many ways Billy Beane (portrayed by Brad Pitt in the 2011 movie “Moneyball”) had gathered together a similar group of “baseball” misfits. A catcher whose reconstructive surgery on his elbow meant he couldn’t throw the ball anymore. A pitcher whose mechanics went against every rule in the book. An aged player whose talent had so declined that his former team paid millions of dollars for him to play against them. From the outside looking in, the Oakland A’s were a collection of throw-away players, guys that no other team wanted, much less were willing to actually pay to play professional baseball.
But these were the guys that Billy pursued. The ones that the rest of the league had banished to the far corners of the dugout were the ones that Billy wanted on his starting lineup. Why? Because Billy was able to look beyond the perceived flaws and see the player for his true worth. The catcher with the bad arm? Billy put him on first base. The pitcher with the bad mechanics. Turned him into one of the most efficient closers in the game. The aged superstar? Turned out he still had some gas left in the tank after all. The guys that everyone else declared as worthless were transformed by Billy into one of the most successful organizations of that decade. He understood that being unwanted, being misfit, doesn’t make a person worthless.
Misfit… worthless… and unwanted. I have met so many people over the past 20+ years of ministry who daily struggle with those very feelings. (In all honesty I have to list myself amongst that group as well.) They struggle with flaws and failings. They live under the weight of expectations and regulations that they just can never seem to satisfy. They look around them and everyone else seems to have it together. Others have joy while they wrestle with despair. Others have peace while their minds are an arena of confusion and worry. Others walk in victory. They walk in defeat. Despite all their desperate longings, there is some broken thing inside of them that keeps them forever feeling the part of an outcast, a misfit in the midst of a kingdom filled with “happy and healthy” believers.
The liberating truth is that just like those misfit toys we too have a King who found us, chose us, and loved us in spite of our broken condition. We were marred, flawed, tainted by our own imperfections. But when we were at our worst, our God was at His best. The Bible says it this way, “But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Stop judging yourself by the world’s standards of perfection, pride, prominence, pleasure, and possessions. These things do not define your worth or value. You are a masterpiece, a treasure, created by God and redeemed by His love. You and I may be misfits but we are His misfits!!!
In closing, I want to issue a challenge to each of us. Remember 1 John 4:11? “Beloved, if God so loved the world, we also ought to love one another.” Billy Beane transformed a baseball team because he looked beyond the surface. He looked past perceived flaws to see a player’s true worth. Imagine what impact the Church could have if we would embrace that same philosophy. Let’s resolve to look at people with the eyes of Christ, to love them with the same love that God so lavishly bestowed upon us. Yes, they are flawed and they fail (just like us). Yes, they are misfits (just like us). But God loves them and reaches out them (just like we should). Look beyond what you see in the natural and view them for their true worth… created by God and a recipient of His grace.