You just finished a stellar high school career at St. Paul’s Episcopal school in Alabama and receive the outstanding high school player of the year award. People notice. In fact you have an offer to pitch for Auburn University. One problem… You were picked in the 15th round of the MLB draft by the San Diego Padres, 472nd overall. What do you do? The obvious choice most of us would make is go to school, hone your craft, and get picked higher to get a bigger contract! (Oh… and an education of course). But for Jake Peavy he knew where God wanted him, and when you are taking the signs from Jesus, you don’t brush them off.
Jake Peavy was raised in Alabama in a Christian home “Since I was old enough to walk I have been in a church. I was raised in the south in what you would call the Bible belt, and I grew up in a home where church was a priority and we went every Wednesday and every Sunday. I am so blessed to have been raised in an environment where God is at the center. He has always been in my life. I certainly have a lot of friends that have different upbringings and are Christians now and it just blows me away knowing that someone would not be around Christianity and church. It is so cool that they had the encounter that led them to Christ, but I feel so blessed to have always had Jesus in my life.” Because Christ is such a huge part of Jake’s life he is passionate about spreading the word. But when you put yourself in the spotlight, people will be watching. “When you say you’re a Christian and profess yourself as a Christian you try not to cast judgment. It says in the Bible in John, “He who is without sin can cast the first stone… Judge not lest thee be judged…” which is the story about the lady who committed adultery. Now we as Christians really try to live by those standards, but the World doesn’t necessarily live that same set of standards. When you say you’re a Christian you are being watched and judged by non-believers diligently and they are just waiting for you to make a mistake or bad move so they can say, “Oh you’re a hypocrite…” or “you’re not who you say you are…” . The biggest thing for me in baseball or this life in general is that it is a tough life if you are a Christian. The stuff you are surrounded by and the way you are treated, you can get spoiled. There are so many stumbling blocks whether it’s home or on the road there are distractions that can take your attention away from where it needs to be. So the biggest thing for me in this life, because people will be watching and judging who you are, is to be up front and honest about who you are. At the end of the day, nobody is perfect and we will all sin. We are all washed clean by the blood. No matter how hard we try to be perfect or even if we think our sin is not a big sin it doesn’t matter! Missing the mark is missing the mark. We are all going to be selfish at times, we all are going to judge someone, or walk down the street and be in ‘la la land’ as a woman walks by and you have a lustful thought before you even realize it because it is our sinful human nature taking over before we allow the Holy Spirit to check us back in. So the most important thing I like to share with my teammates and others is that I am a Christian. This by no means, means that I am perfect or will never mess up. I am not a better Christian or better at my faith than anyone else. But at the end of the day, my faith in Christ is my rock. It’s what I try to live my life by and model my life after. And when I approach people that way and not try to shove “do’s and don’ts” down their throats, they are less likely to focus on me and look for me to mess up. At the end of the day we are all saved by the grace of God and we are also born into a sinful nature. If I try to act ‘better’ than anyone else, I’m just setting myself up for a whole lot of criticism and may even create a stumbling block for others.” But that doesn’t mean that he wants to minimize the blood of Jesus. “By no means do I think I am not accountable or don’t need to be judged! I NEED to have accountability and live by the standards that God has set for us as believers.”
During his career Jake has earned almost every award you could imagine. He has played for three teams; the Padres 2002-2009, the Chicago White Sox 2009-2013, and the Boston Red Sox 2013 to present where he won his first World Series Championship. During this time he has been a three time all-star (2005, 2007, and 2012), won the Cy Young award (2007), Triple Crown (2007), Gold Glove award (2012), NL Wins champion (2007), strike out champion (2005 and 2007), and NL ERA champion (2004 and 2007). With sports being such a huge stage, it is a perfect way to spread God’s word. But Satan knows the impact he can make with such a generous stage as well. So I asked Jake what he thought his life would be like without God in it, especially with all the temptations that the world has to offer. “Oh my goodness I couldn’t even imagine where I’d be without the foundation that I have to bring me back. Starting with the temptations and certain people wanting your time over the years, there is no telling where I would have ended up had I not had that foundation. I know on my own there is no way I could have managed the stress, and physical toll it has taken on my body. There have been some major surgeries especially the last one I went through; there is no way I could have made it through without knowing I was in God’s hands. I know my life would be nowhere near as good if it were not for Jesus being in it.”
Jake married his childhood friend Katie Alford at the age of 19 and they have three sons. They still live in his hometown of Semmes, Alabama. With the career and the drive that Jake has to succeed I asked him how important it is to have a spiritual support within his family. “It is so important to not only have your wife as your support but for me I have a team of family members that are here to pick me up and bring me back. When my family is around they don’t talk to me as Jake Peavy the baseball player. Today everyone I encounter will speak to me like I have this uniform on like I do now. So for me I have to have my parents and my brother along and some close friends as well. It’s not always easy for my kids because they are getting into baseball and camps and my wife is helping them build their lives when I’m not around. My life is very different from what my wife and kids have to do back home so it is important to have other support with me. My brother helps with a lot of the business stuff we have going on and it is great having the spiritual support from him as well. So for me it’s not just the love and spiritual support from my wife and kids, it’s also from the rest of my family and friends as well.”
Jake and his brother work together on other business ventures outside of baseball. One that is in the works is a baseball retreat called Southern Falls. “It’s about a 5,000 acre ranch with a baseball field and a couple of lodges, an amphitheater, and some sports facilities because Kid’s are my heart and we have been building this place to provide a retreat. It could be for father / son, different type of ministry retreats for kids, or whatever. Now I don’t want to push Jesus down people’s throats but if I built it at the end of the day they will hear the truth. That’s my heart and that’s what I built the place for and I want to be able to reach others and take others with us. Isn’t that what it’s all about?”
In 2013 Jake finally won what in baseball is the crown jewel… a World Series Championship with the Boston Red Sox. “I know the harder I work at this game and the more I achieve, the bigger the stage gets and the better chance I have to make an impact in people’s lives. I want to help as many people as I can to get to heaven!” And at the end of the day, that is the only score that really matters. May God bless you, your family, and your career Jake Peavy.
Hear more from Jake Peavy in SportsFaith Interviews.