He was a disciplined, skilled professional baseball player, but he was undisciplined and inconsistent in his actions and behavior. This used to be the description of Paul Molitor, former star major league baseball player.
“I went through a couple of decades where my walk with the Lord was very inconsistent,” shares Molitor, field manager of the Minnesota Twins and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. “I got caught up in a couple ‘different strongholds’ along the way and experienced my parent’s divorce. Although I tried to continue to grow in some areas of my faith life, there were other areas where sin had a hold on me.” Molitor continues, “The good news was God’s love and acceptance of me never left after I made my commitment of faith in college. He never let go of His hold on me.”
Molitor played soccer and was an all-state player in basketball and baseball at Cretin High School in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was raised in a home where the family attended church regularly, but he was, as he said, “never really educated to the aspect of faith that included a personal relationship with Christ.”
Paul, who was drafted in 1977 by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round and third overall, attended the University of Minnesota (1975-77). In his college days, he was out on his own. He participated in activities that college kids often do, and he also faced challenges that took him away from his early faith upbringing.
There was one college experience that put Molitor on the right track. He comments, “It was through a friend on my college baseball team who was active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) where I was exposed to FCA and heard the message about having a relationship with Christ. It was in my junior year at Minnesota when I made the decision to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.”
Traveling through those two decades of behavioral inconsistency, Molitor’s commitment of faith was, as he said, “always at the root of my soul and yet I was still choosing to do things on my own in some ways. I had to endure some things after becoming a Christian. My walk, my life did not look very Christian in some aspects.”
He adds, “Thankfully, overtime, I was able to grow stronger to where I acted for the most part, I spoke for the most part, and I served for the most part which created a better reflection of my commitment to Christ. Miles to go, but grateful that God has allowed me to endure some things I am not very proud of.”
Brian Anderson, Milwaukee Brewer TV announcer, comments, “Paul Molitor is a very strong and active Christian. He witnesses his faith in Christ with others.”
“Christ has changed me,” states Paul, “because I believe that much of the Gospel message is about redemption and transformation.” A Scripture Molitor refers to is Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers….Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Paul explains, “We are to seek God’s will in our lives, the good and perfect plan for our lives. We are stubborn; and even as Believers, we need to understand that without the hope we have and being able to look at things eternally rather than temporally, life would be fully void without having that larger viewpoint of what God intends for us and how He looks at our time here (on Earth).”
Molitor mentions that we are not in our permanent home yet. “I think just having that knowledge really helps with day to day things, like my relationship with my wife and kids, my work, and knowing that I am trying to serve Him for a greater Glory.”
Paul and his wife, Destini, have two young children, Julia (12) and Ben (9). He also has two older children, daughter, Blaire, and son, Joshua. Molitor shares, “I am very grateful that God has given me a second chance at family. It has been incredible to be a father again of two younger children at a relatively older age.”
Paul Molitor, the World Series MVP for the 1993 Champion Toronto Blue Jays, has been able to fulfill a childhood dream of playing major league baseball. He realizes that God had gifted him with talent to hit (3,319 hits), run (504 stolen bases), and field (7 time all-star) that took him to the pinnacle of professional baseball. Paul shares, “I have been blessed. To play as long as I did and to play in a couple World Series and to eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, is beyond my wildest dreams in terms of what God allowed me to experience.” He continues, “It is a humbling thing to be able to do something you love for as long as I was able to do. I played baseball until I was 42 years old. It was just an incredible gift (from God).”
A very good friend++ and mentor shares, “A life lived in the glare of public scrutiny is a unique challenge. Paul, my brother in Christ and trusted friend, is engaged in a transparent and ever deepening walk of faith. Jesus is both Paul’s strength and friend. This transparent walk is deeply earnest and a public demonstration of faith in action that includes baseball but extends far beyond the great game.”
Witnessing his Christian faith has been important to Paul Molitor. He has participated in FCA events, fundraising, and speaking engagements. He will give his testimony whenever he can fit the event into his schedule. His testimony has changed by the life he has lived from a 20 year old college kid to a 59 year old man who is manager of a major league team.
The four time Louisville Silver Slugger Award winner, Paul comments about witnessing, “I do like getting out with a chance to speak because I think when you are real and you lived through the same pains and struggles, others can relate. The hope is they will make the decision to follow Christ if they want their own lives transformed.” He adds, “I think, on a daily basis, it is more about trying to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, as found in Galatians 5:22, referring to ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’ As we grow in these areas, it will be reflected in our service to others. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”
Molitor feels it is important for him as manager of the Twins to serve his players. He continues, “I want my players to be the best athletes and best ball players they can be. I also have an opportunity to influence their lives in other ways, to make them curious about how I live and why. Every day you have an opportunity to show how Christ manages your life by the decisions you make and the things you do.”
Paul understands the need for a personal relationship with Christ. Because of man’s sin, there is a separation between man and God that only Christ can bridge the gap. For Molitor, at some point you have to answer the question Jesus posed to Peter about who do you say that I am…a great man, a prophet or the Messiah. Paul shares, “If you choose to believe Christ is who He says He is, then you have to make a decision to allow Christ to personally come in your life and be the One to save your life in terms of providing mercy through forgiveness as well as securing your eternity in the Kingdom.”
Paul wants to encourage others to be followers of Christ. He knows he has been blessed in many ways, and there were times he realizes he was not the kind of Christian he should have been. He comments, “The encouragement of realness in the Truth (of the Gospel) and to have that Truth as my foundation is the reason I can have the hope I have and the attitude I have. No matter what happens here, God has reached out to me and has given me a chance to be secure in His hands for Eternity. That is an incredible gift.” He adds, “I would encourage people to consider Christ for their own lives and take advantage of a merciful, loving God that we have.”
++Requested not to use his name in the article.
Written by Bruce Darnall, Lake Mills, WI
Photos provided by Minnesota Twins Baseball Club