When my children attended St. Francis of Assisi grade school years ago, I coached a lot of volleyball, both at the CYC and club levels. As I learned more about coaching volleyball, one phrase has stuck with me over the years — "better the ball." That statement bears further explanation.
In volleyball, each team can touch the ball only three times before the ball has to go back over the net to the other team. To "better the ball" meant that if you received a bad pass or hard serve, you would try to make a better pass to your teammate so that ultimately you would win the rally and receive a point. So, to "better the ball" was in your team's best interest.
If you think about it, "better the ball" applies to all aspects of our lives. In everything we do, we should use our God-given gifts to try to make better or improve. We should go beyond the minimum required and give our best. We should strive to "better the ball."
In regard to stewardship, "better the ball" correlates to the part that says "return your gifts with increase." Many of us forget or overlook this part because it's hard. It's easy to give or do the minimum because that usually comes out of our surplus. It's harder to give with increase because that really requires trust in God. Trust that He will provide all that we need (vs. what we want).
As good stewards, we should be grateful and generous with our gifts and return those gifts with increase. When we "better the ball" with the gifts we have been given, we're fulfilling God's plan. When we don't, we aren't living to the full potential that God has planned for us.
Michelangelo said, "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but it is too low and we hit it."
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.