Many believers have been led to believe they are winners in life and in their walks with the Lord after a great start and a few early victories. But in matters of ongoing maturity, growth, advancement and effectiveness—winning, if you will—continual growth is measured in critical, often unseen, hard-fought, small degrees rather than leaps and bounds. It is this reality that leads to most of us settling for far less than we can accomplish, and far less than we could ever know about ourselves and the Lord. This dilemma is not an easy one to combat, but it is possible to fight it and move forward. It’s possible to change through life and grow and advance. It’s not a matter of talent or giftedness, but what we’re willing to do to grow, get better, mature—win. Let’s start with a golf lesson.
I’ve had a set of golf clubs since I was a kid. My dad taught me how to grip the club, and he also taught me how to play with a slice—aim really far left and whack away! As I got older, I bought a set of clubs that someone recommended and I started playing golf. Fast-forward half a lifetime and now I’m in a season of life where my wins are few (a few birdies every other year!) and the game is frustrating, but all my friends play it. So, I had to choose either to play at increased levels of embarrassment or make a change. I opted for change. I know what you’re thinking—what in the world does this have to do with change in my life? Just hang with me—let me give you a few more details of my golf story and I promise I’ll bring it full circle!
During my first lesson, my new golf coach just watched me. He said very little, asked a lot of questions, and just kept watching me. He asked how long I had been playing, how I felt about certain aspects of my game, and things I would like to improve. You could say he was really digging into how I approach the game and how I play it. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and the lesson was over. Then something strange happened; my coach retreated to his golf bag, took out a white index card and began writing. He handed me the card that was now filled with three or four points we had discussed during the lesson and a few drills we had tried. He said, “As you come to the driving range for the next couple of weeks just think about these things and practice them. They will seem awkward at times but keep working on them.” We shook hands, I paid the bill and away we went. So what?
The first time I went to the driving range after that first lesson, I wanted to do what I had done every time before—get the bucket of balls and start hacking away. After all, that was how I had learned to survive golf for half a lifetime! But now I had new information and I had to make a choice. Was I willing to make the hard choice to ‘start over’ to get better? I could hack it (literally!) if I stuck to what I already knew and had been doing my whole life. But I took a chance. I decided to do the drills. I did the things that felt funny and I know looked weird. I badly wanted to be like the guy next to me hitting beautiful shots that curved from right to left; instead, for the time being, I had to be content with drills that often resulted in balls only rolling into the distance and lacking any beautiful curve. But I trusted my coach and I kept doing what he told me to do. So what does this have to do with your personal growth? Simple: a willingness to change. To get better at golf, I had to come to a place where I was willing to allow someone to challenge the way I played and then trust them as they led me to a better way. I could continue playing golf with my slice, but I wanted to win. This meant a lot had to change, and the biggest change was in my heart—not my ability.
Far too many of us get comfortable with our slice. We learn techniques to cope with life, but we never think about change because it is either too hard or we can’t fathom what it would take. So, as a result, we get into the ruts of life and we never accept the opportunities to learn, get better, take on a new challenge or even just hit the ball straight. We assume others have some sort of natural ability to do the things we can’t, and we accept our lot. But if you decide to change—to break out and pursue growth of any kind, in any field—it will require the humility to deconstruct and rebuild for the better.
So here is my question for the week: If you really want to grow and you really want to change, are you willing to allow someone to look into the ‘swing’ of your life and begin to offer a few things to work on that might be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but are essential if you’re going to make the move from frustratingly getting around the course of life to playing with a greater sense of?