The EPIC baseball game Sunday afternoon left us all excited, entertained and life-long Ranger fans.  It also left me thinking of two players.  Not the player who accidentally, intentionally slid into a baseman hoping to take him out.  Not the player who hauled off and slugged his nemesis in the jaw.  Not the pitchers who did or didn’t hit the batters on purpose. Not any of the many players (was it 8 in total) who were ejected from the game.  Instead, I find myself smiling about the two players (I’m sure there were more) who were intentionally working at restoring order.  One grabbed a player who had lost complete control of himself and held on to him until order was restored.  Another kept a coach in check, with the desire to save him from falling of the cliff into destructive behavior.  In the middle of total mayhem, neither of these guys ever lost their cool, made knee jerk decisions, or followed the crowd.  (Thanks, Beltre and Fielder.)

When you think of all the different players in that EPIC baseball brawl, which would you follow?  Following someone and being a fan of them are two completely different things. Who would you trust your daughters with?  Or your money? Your business?  The men who demonstrated integrity on the field, are the same ones conducting their lives with integrity.  D. L. Moody, the late, great American evangelist known for saying, “Character is what you are in the dark” was asked by a reporter, which people gave him the most trouble.  Moody said, “I’ve had more trouble with D.L. Moody than any man alive.”  

All great leaders understand that their number one responsibility is their own self-control.    

Just following WWII, Napoleon Hill witnessed a long line of angry, disgruntled women in a large department store in Chicago.  The young woman behind the desk received each woman without any hint of frustration. After they had lambasted her with irate words and attitude, she directed them with a smile on her face to the resolution for their complaint.  Hill marveled at her self- control.  Standing just behind her was another young woman making notations on slips of paper and placing them in front of her.  Each note contained the gist of what the women were saying (without any of the anger).  The smiling woman who was receiving the complaints was deaf.  The manager told Hill he couldn’t find anyone with enough self-control for that position until he made this arrangement.  

Self-control is solely a matter of controlling your own thoughts.  The only thing you have complete control over are your thoughts.  Thought is your most important tool.  It boils down to this: deliberately put in your mind the kind of thoughts you want there and keep out the thoughts you don’t want there (even in the middle of a brawl or a long line of complainers).  Yes, it’s true they said something rude; so why do you keep thinking about it?  Yes, it’s true they misbehaved; so why do you allow that to cloud your thoughts?  People of wisdom guard their mind and, as a result, their conversations.  Nothing good comes from uninvited, uncontrolled, loosely spoken words. 

Self-control is thought-control!

Let’s all take a page from the non-hearing clerk behind the counter and respond only to the need, not the attitude.  Practice today stripping all the attitude from what your teenager says and only responding to the need.  When you have the opportunity to throw a punch or use words to punch, consider what is essential and acknowledge only that.  If some action or comment starts to ruffle your feathers, scrutinize what you are allowing your mind to think about.  You are in control of your thoughts.  Self-control is thought-control!