Jack Nicklaus was once asked how he won so many golf tournaments. His answer was something like this: “I realized early on I couldn’t stay hyper-focused on every shot, and that tournaments are won and lost on the putting green. So I disciplined myself to take a deep breath, refocus, and approach each green with great purpose, and with the intention to get it right.” (My paraphrase)
This is a fitting analogy for all men, and, ladies, for many of you as well. The fairways are our day to day busy existence. The putting green is our time, our relationships, our interaction with those in our lives who are most important. Yes, the fairways of life are important, and we all want to strive to be our utmost for His highest1 each day, in all we do. But it’s on the putting green where tournaments – and life – are won and lost.
Sadly, for so many, this is where life is lost. Relationships are lost here. Missed opportunities to get it right are lost here. Love is lost here. Intimate, personal, meaningful life experiences are lost here. The Lord is even lost here.
We are simply unfocused and inattentive, and without intentional purpose when we approach these putting greens of our lives.
Most men consider their work – and as a result those with whom they work and interact during the workday – the most important thing in life. Now of course they would never say this, but oh come on, the way we spend our time and energy proves this beyond any debate.
As a result we are simply too tired to give the appropriate, and the required, and the so very needed energy to those who are most important.
Men – and women, too – arrive home after work, or a busy day, tired and unfocused. Our children, our spouses, our Lord, are secondary to ourselves at this point. We are exhausted. We need a little time to ourselves. We have just spent our energy and focus on everyone else, and now that it is time to invest, we just, well, “I’ll get to them later. Just let me unwind and relax for a minute.”
But later never comes and the opportunity to invest in those who are truly important is so often lost.
We spend all day long on the fairways, but fail to invest on our putting greens: our relationships.
The results are all around us. Stressed out and stretched out people. Fractured families. Divorces. Average to lukewarm to outright bad marriages. Children off balance and not secure in themselves: empty inside and searching for fulfillment, but without a clue how to find it. So are we, and nor do we.
Parents are not honored. Relationships are not nourished. (Maintaining is not nourishing)
At this point you are probably expecting me to play the “You’re too busy” card. But I’m not. Not because you aren’t – you most certainly are – but because you don’t have ears to hear that. You would respond in one of these ways:
Denial: “I’m not too busy.” (Ha!)
Resistance: “That’s easy for you to say living your little ministry life. But you’re out of touch with reality.”
Acquiescence: “Yes, I am too busy, but I can’t do anything about it. This is my life.”
Yes, you most certainly can do something about it. But you won’t. And I understand that. It would take a massive restructuring of your life. Actually, it would first take a massive deconstruction, then restructuring. Mountains would have to be moved, castles surrendered and thrones abdicated.
You won’t do that. So today, as we start this new year, I’m going to employ a different idea: distracted.
We are all distracted. That much is obvious. We don’t even have to be super busy to be distracted. I can be distracted sitting alone, quietly. I have at least three conversations going on in my head at all times. We are distracted by what she said, what they meant, if I don’t it won’t, what if, how will I? I’m distracted by the neighbor’s pumpkins still sitting out on the curb: Don’t they realize by now the city is not going to pick them up?
In the coming weeks I want to challenge you to examine your focus, and your priorities. Not what you say are your priorities, but how you actually live your priorities: Body-Mind-Spirit. By doing this we will address the sobering question:
“Is where you are going where you want to be when you get there?”2
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved