Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Baseball Pitcher Achieves Perfection … at a Cost

On April 12, 2012, the White Sox's pitcher Philip Humber pitched a perfect game. That is, he retired 27 batters in a row. No walks, no hits. It's a feat that's been accomplished by only 18 other pitchers in Major League Baseball's 108-year-old history. But then in November of that same year, the White Sox cut him from their team roster.

An article in Sports Illustrated zeroed in on Humber's deadly character flaw—perfectionism. The article's subtitle read, "For one magical April afternoon, Philip Humber was flawless. But that random smile from the pitching gods came with a heavy burden: the pressure to live up to a standard no one can meet." The article continued:

The biggest problem with Humber wasn't his talent. It was, according to those close to him, the unrealistic expectations he set for himself. "He's a perfectionist," says Robert Ellis, [a former mentor to Humber.]"
Humber admitted, "After the game it was like, I've got to prove that the perfect game was not a fluke—I almost felt like I had to prove that I deserved to be on that list. I was thankful for it, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that everyone knew that this wasn't a joke. I'm really good enough to do this."
Every time Humber took the mound, he tried to be the pitcher he was in Seattle—but competence seemed unattainable, much less perfection. In his next start, he allowed nine runs in five innings. Two outings later he was bombed for eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. Every time he fell short of the new standard he set for himself, he pushed himself harder. He began spending more time than ever in the video room. He played with every imaginable grip for his pitches. He threw extra bullpen sessions. He ran more, lifted more. He asked teammates how they dealt with their struggles. He couldn't understand why he couldn't recapture the magic. "I just feel lost," Humber said.

The article concluded with a ray of hope: "Philip Humber doesn't know what will come next in his baseball story. This he knows: He's done chasing perfection."

Possible Preaching Angles: The quest for perfection ruined Humber's season and he never regained his form. As followers of Christ, we must let go of our perfectionism. Only Christ has achieved true and lasting perfection. We rest in his perfect track record.

Related Sermon Illustrations

World's Largest Donation Viewed as Path to Heaven

In June of 2006, Warren Buffet, the world's second-richest man at the time, announced that he would donate 85 percent of his $44 billion fortune to five charitable foundations.

[Read More]

God's Love, Like Marital Love, Is Unconditional

Picture this: a bride and groom dashing out of the church, through the showers of birdseed and into the limo, all aglow with the light of love from the vows they've just taken. In ...

[Read More]