Recently, I played an exclusive golf club which provided caddies. I can explain my golf swing in baseball terms. It is a cross between a screw ball and a change up. It is a "screw up." It made my relationship with the caddy interesting. I told him to stop checking his watch, because it was distracting me. He replied that it was a compass, not a watch. I retorted that this was the worst course I had ever played, and he exclaimed that he didn't know where we were, because we had left the course an hour ago. As he handed me a ball, I told him it couldn't possibly be my ball, because it was too old. He said it had been such a long time since we teed off, it probably was my ball. I quit talking to my caddy. I turned to my pastor friend and asked him if he thought it was a sin to play golf on Sunday. He told me that the way I played it was a sin on any day.
I can't play golf, but Tiger Woods can. I was in the gallery when Tiger Woods won his first Masters Tournament. He didn't just win - he destroyed the competition. After the Masters, he did what they call, in Twelve-Step Terminology, a personal inventory. Tiger watched himself on video and determined that to reach the next level and continue to win major championships, he had to completely reconstruct his swing. He said he had a flaw that needed to be corrected. He hired a coach, and they reconstructed his swing.
People in the golf world thought he had totally lost it. He suddenly stopped winning. However, after the new swing became part of him, he began to win like no other player has ever won. Years later, he did essentially the same thing. He hired a new golf coach and reconstructed his swing.
Let me ask you about the state of your "pastor" swing. Is it like Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown is busy at a woodworking project, and Lucy asks, "How is the birdhouse coming, Charlie Brown?" He replies, "Well, I'm a lousy carpenter, I can't nail straight, I can't see straight, and I always split the wood. I'm nervous, I lack confidence, I'm stupid, I have poor taste, and absolutely no sense of design. So, all things considered, it's coming along OK."
All things considered, how's the game of church life going? Are you winning? You should be able to win at your own game.
Arnold Palmer once went to a blind golfer's convention. He was intrigued and asked how they were able to play golf while being blind. They answered that it wasn't too difficult. Their caddies have a bell, and when they rang it three times, the golfers are supposed to hit toward the sound. The caddie then moves to the next location and rings the bell. Arnold Palmer was impressed, and the golfers told him that they thought they could beat even him. Now Palmer wondered if they knew who he was, but they were willing to make a $10,000 wager they could beat him. His competitive spirit won out, and he agreed to play them. He then asked what time they would tee off. Tee time was 10:30 p.m.
You may say, "Wait a minute! At my church it's not the blind leading the blind. It's more like the bland leading the bland."
This New Year might be a great time to reinvent your pastor swing. Tiger may conquer on Sunday, but we are more than conquerors. What we do on Sunday affects all eternity. What changes are necessary for you to take it to the next level? Take a break, or maybe take a lesson? A factor in Tiger's greatness is that he focuses on the majors. If you are not great at anything, maybe you are trying to do everything.
A good golf club in my hand is worth about $200. A golf club in Tiger Wood's hand is worth about $70 million. It all depends on whose hands it is in. A slingshot in my hand will be a toy. A slingshot in the hand of David was a mighty weapon. It all depends on the hand. Nails in my hand might produce a bird house. Nails in Jesus' hand produced salvation for the entire world. It all depends on whose hands it is in.
Our Father has the whole world in His hands. This year for your pastor swing, grip it and rip it.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a fulltime speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 903-881-9422 or www.charleslowery.com.