lessons from the front 9 nine

so i celebrated a birthday with little fanfare which is actually the way i enjoy it...a cake, a few cards, a couple of gifts and being with my family and close friends.

it's caused me to stop and think...actually, i think crossing every 'decadel year' does (i.e., 20's, 30's, 40's, etc) - this one was the 40's - now that i'm 40 i've been told the following: 'you're old'; 'you're over the hill'; 'now that you're old you'll get some r-e-s-p-e-c-t' (my favorite one by far...that was a good line). nonetheless, it's caused me to pause and to reflect for a while on what have i learned in this first 40 years...some writers refer to what i'm in now as the 2nd half of life ...personally, i'm hoping its the first period (for your hockey fans out there) and not the first half...

i've wrapped up the front nine, the first 40, the first 'half' (although i'm going to hope for longer!) and here are some important lessons that i've learned:
  • like golf, keep your feet firmly planted, your shoulders square, your eye on the ball, and your head looking down - translated, stay rooted in God's work, have confidence that God's at work, know what God's purpose is in your life and keep your focus locked on the target. miss any one of these and you've frustrated your swing and your momentum - as it is in life! remove God from any equation, any situation, and circumstance, any trouble, any plan, anything and you've lost the ability to live in the moment (see my last post)
  • like golf, a few practice swings is not a bad thing. when i show up to the course i always get a bucket of balls to establish my rhythm, loosen up and get the 'bad shots out' - haha, i only wish that were true (the last statement) - but here's the deal, as in golf, there are going to be some 'bad shots' - some balls that go astray, some things that land in the wrong place, some opportunities that you missed - however, it's not then that we give up - it's then that we evaluate, consider the options, learn from our mistakes and continue to play the game. think for a moment, how many tournaments has tiger woods won on the back nine? i'm not sure the number, but i would say it's probably a lot. sure there are some situations where he can go into the last day of a tourney having locked in the lead, but more and more, we're seeing him and others pull it out in the back nine - that's why there are 18 holes in golf thankfully and not just nine - there's always the 'back nine'
  • like golf, look to the next hole - in other words, don't dwell on the past, the mistakes, the blown two-put. there are times where we really blow it. the important thing when approaching the next hole is to forget the mistakes of the previous hole. sure, you learn from your mistakes - but you don't repeat your mistakes - either physically or mentally!
  • like golf, there are some things out of you control. back in the spring i played one day just after they had aerated the course - this translates into terrible putting situations. but it's what i had! sometimes it's the wind, sometimes the heat, sometimes the cup is moved to a difficult location on the green. in all of these instances, some things are out of our control - the important thing is to realize which ones are in our control and which ones are out of our control.
  • like golf, enjoy the company. golf, for me, is less about the rules and the final score (because i stink at it) and more about the experience and the fun (yes, it can be fun with the right attitude - which i don't always choose) - the great thing about golf is that it's more fun with more people - i remember the one time in south florida when i played with 8 other guys - yes we were slow, we took all day - and yes you're not supposed to do that - but it was slow, late in the day and no one seemed to mind - so 9 of us took off playing one hole at a time - good time! life is more fun when you're not alone. this is of course true and a really good reason to one day marry, but even if you're not married, it's just more fun to be with people.
  • like golf, know when to lay up - truth is there are some days (and even some weeks!) where not everything can get done. i just don't have the drive to accomplish everything that needs to be done because there's always one more thing to be done - so, i have to know when to lay up and take the safe shot - that, in turn, prepares me for the next shot - in other words, do what you can do, don't burn out, take the shot that sets you up for the next shot
  • on the other hand, like golf, you have to know when to take risks - again, referring to tiger's play, the man knows how to take a risk and he's always comfortable in it because he knows his limits and his capacities. too often we're only aware of our limits...


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Pastor Rick! Here's to finishing strong!


Todd Strickland said...

Great post friend, I really like the golf analogies. You can always play another 18?!?!? Todd