Three’s a Charm

By Patrick G Howard

I don’t normally like to repeat myself, but …

Our last two foci have been centered around James 1:22 – Be doers of the word, and not hearers only. I challenged each of you to ask God what being doers of the word looks like in your business.

Did you?

Most of the time I get very positive feedback about the Focus of the Month, but the last one was a little different. The response to the focus and the roundtable discussions we had in some of the chapters was tremendous. I heard many great examples of how we can be doers of the word in our businesses. When that happens, I know that my message was what the Spirit wanted me to share. Feeling quite happy with myself, I decided it was time to move on to another verse for our focus.

It happened again!

I was at church a few Sundays ago. Now, that Sunday, I would be singing the offertory with a small ensemble in about thirty minutes, and my mind was really on my performance and not on worship.

If you recall, last time I spoke about my experience at Charlie Johnson’s memorial, and how the message in the eulogy was clearly meant for me. Well, it happened again.

Our first bible reading was from the book of James at the first chapter. I think I could spend a year studying James. This letter is like the book of Proverbs for the New Testament. Written almost two millennia ago, it is just as relevant today as it was then.

In his letter, James addresses problems and practical instructions for living in faith all day, every day, at home, at work and in the community. He addresses problems such as discrimination, lust, backbiting, worldliness, and others. He clearly makes the case that the Christian faith is more than just a principle, but rather a commitment to a way of life.

Now, normally I would listen attentively to the readings, but on this day my mind was on other things. On other things until we reached verse 22 in the reading – Be doers of the word, not hearers only. That is when my mind snapped to attention and could think of nothing else.

It got me thinking that maybe we’re not through with this verse.

Shall we play a game?

Whether you are a master of the links, a despiser of the dogleg, or somewhere in between, there is a philosophy every successful golfer carries in their mental bag of clubs; a mind-wedge if you please.

You must play the ball where it lies.

This is a very simple, and seemingly obvious concept for even the most novice among us, but it is one of the most difficult to execute in golf, or any of life’s endeavors as well. I bring this up because golf is an allegory for life.

Think about it.

Our lives are filled with struggles and disappointments, with a few successes along the course. No matter how many strokes you take during a game of golf, you are only successful of reaching your goal of putting that tiny ball into that little hole 18 times. Even the best golfers in the world only do that an average of once every four times they swing a club.

Talk to anybody who has attempted the game, and they will likely tell you that golf is one of the most frustrating activities you will ever attempt. It is as much mental as it is physical. We celebrate those very few good shots, while we dwell on the last shot that became alligator food. Only the elite golfers ever master the concept of – you must play the ball where it lies.

Where is your ball?

I imagine that in the past month, many of you have attempted to be doers of the word but have let life get in the way. And like a golfer who slices their ball to the depths of Davy Jones Locker on occasion, it is easy to become discouraged with what we perceive as life’s failures and quit trying.

Maybe it’s time for a shift in focus.

Maybe our definition of success is wrong. Maybe, instead of recognizing success as some measurable outcome, we properly focus on the effort as our par for the course. It is easy to dwell on our failures and become so discouraged that we no longer try, but if we focus on making the effort, some of our shots will go in the hole.

My challenge to you …

Play the ball where it lies.

Don’t worry about last month because you lost your ball in the deep rough. Quit looking for that ball, come out of the rough, take your drop and play the ball where it lies. Just make your next swing.

Make every day your next swing.

If today lands in the rough, just play the ball where it lies.

Go out and be doers of the word, and not hearers only.