Ten years ago the Kansas City Royals made a move that would radically change the organization from that time forward – they hired a new General Manager by the name of Dayton Moore. At that point the Royals were beyond sad when it comes to Major League Baseball teams. In fact, they had lost at least 100 games in a season four of five seasons between 2002-2006 and when Moore was hired they were in a 13-game losing streak with no prospect of a turnaround.
Beginning in his very first press conference Dayton Moore began talking about “a process” that he had – a process to build the team from the ground up, starting by building the strongest of minor league systems that would eventually come to fruition in the major leagues, not just with a competitive team but a championship team. “Trust the process” was a phrase that was repeated a lot over the next several years by Moore.
In fact, as the Royals continued their meager ways it became a saying that was received with much disdain by the ever-faithful KC fanbase. For the first several years of Moore’s tenure as GM the team remained near the cellar of their division and fans were growing disgruntled and impatient with the “trust the process” rhetoric. Perhaps, things came to a boiling point when Moore had the audacity to trade their Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, Zack Greinke for a couple mediocre players and some prospects.
However, under the surface things were not as they appeared above the surface. The Royals were steadily improving their record year-over-year although not by the leaps and bounds one would typically look for in a team that was going places. They were making excellent draft picks and developing them through their minor league system. This development, again, was going far slower than the fan-base wanted to see. And they were rated the top minor league system a few of those years. Beyond that, two of those prospects they got from the Greinke trade were two future All-Stars for the Royals.
Fastforward to 2014 (eight years after Moore’s hire) and the once lowly Kansas City Royals were American League Champions and lost in the World Series by the narrowest of margins. Add one more year and the city of Kansas City would see “the process” come to full fruition when the Royals won a World Series championship with a team made up in large-part of homegrown talent.
It was a slow and, at times, painful process that although it was not always clear, it was moving toward the goal and ultimately achieved the goal. Believe it or not, the Royals’ story has a lot to do with learning Spanish and our sanctification.
Over the last six months Betsy and I have been going through the difficult and at times painful process of learning Spanish. Much like the Royals we often have far more development happening behind the scenes than we immediately see. However, over time we begin to see this development show itself often in small advances. Sometimes it is easy to wonder about the approach the teachers are taking but in the end we must “trust the process.” In fact, at this point it is incredible to see how far we have come in such a short time (even though it does not always feel like it has been a short time). Because of this we will continue to “trust the process” and look forward to the day when we are speaking with the higher level of fluency that we desire.
Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from the illustration of the Royals is that of our sanctification – the process by which we become more like Jesus. Yes there are times when we experience rapid growth but much through much of the sanctification process the Christian must simply “trust the process.” By this I mean that we must day-after-day work to live out the Word of God trusting that by the power of his Holy Spirit he is changing us from the inside out. Therefore, we may not always see dramatic changes in our character or holiness from a day-to-day perspective and we may even go through difficult and painful experiences which seem to set us back rather than progress our sanctification.
But often when we step back and survey what the Lord has done in us over years of faithfully seeking to live out His Word we realize that He has done much more in us than we even thought possible. And, of course, one day we will see the full realization of our sanctification when Jesus returns and makes all things new and sin will be no more (Revelation 21-22).
I want to close with this charge: “trust the process.” Most great accomplishments are hard won. They take time, incredible effort, perseverance and the grace of God. This is true with our language learning (or whatever goal you may be working toward) and with our sanctification. With the latter, we have the promise of the Holy Spirit to help us knowing that our sanctification is the will of God for us in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:3). So may we press on and may we “trust the process” of our sanctification knowing that someday it too will produce a crown and a reward (2 Timothy 4:8).