Links Daily Devotional

MISTAKES: Lessons learned in 50 years of disciple-making (Part 6)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19, NASB)

Tomorrow Jordan Spieth will begin his attempt to win the third leg of the Grand Slam. Should he do it, he would be the only golfer since Ben Hogan to win the first three majors of the year.

Gary Player said before this year’s U.S Open that Spieth had something called “the It.” What It was, Gary hadn’t figured out. But It is a mysterious quality possessed by those who go down in golf history. Jones, Hogan, Nicklaus, Woods.

I saw in Spieth an emotional strength that came full bloom on the 71st hole of the championship. After sinking a 25-foot, left-to-right slider on the 70th hole for a three-shot lead with two holes to play, Spieth almost shanked a 6-iron into high rough just inside the railroad tracks, leading to a double bogey at seventeen. Meanwhile, Louis Oosthuizen was making birdie at eighteen to catch Spieth, and Dustin Johnson birdied seventeen behind him. In mere moments, that three-shot lead vanished.

It was then, when he walked off the green toward the last tee, that I believe we witnessed something of the It. Even seasoned major champions would have shaken their heads after such a disastrous double-bogey and a three-shot swing at this critical moment of the tournament, but Jordan appeared to shuck it off.

“It was really a bad shot,” he said, grinning in the press room later. “I was lucky the pin was on the left or it might have gone out of bounds. Just bad execution… I knew I could still win or be in a playoff if I birdied the last hole.”

Ho hum. Why sweat it? That hole’s gone.

And then he birdied the last to win.

The It may be Spieth’s resilience. Gary Player thinks it’s something more: a will or a magic that produces victory when others fade. Maybe we’ll never know.

I tell Spieth’s familiar U.S. Open story because I see in it a valuable truth. Spieth knew he had no time to beat up on himself for his “bad execution” at seventeen. If he wanted any chance of winning, he had to think of nothing but his drive on the 72nd hole. That was his job, and he stuck to it.

One of my greatest mistakes came when my daughter, Michelle, was hospitalized. For more than two months, we couldn’t find a doctor who could give us a diagnosis. Unlike cool-headed Jordan Spieth, I was frantic, looking everywhere and for anyone who might know how to help her. A good friend had the courage to tell me I was “a fix-it man.” Made me so angry I wanted to pound him in the head with my lob wedge! Why wouldn’t a father try to do everything he could to fix his only daughter? 

But my friend was right. I was trying to be what I wasn’t equipped to be, a doctor and counselor.

Finally, after almost three months and seven doctors and much fervent, heart-wrenching prayer, we found Dr. Erol Segal. After one hour with her he said, “I’ve seen this before. It’s biological depression. She’ll be all right.”

I didn’t believe him, but one month later Michelle was home and has never relapsed in more than 30 years. Three times since, she has been nominated for Pulitzers for her work as a writer.

So what was my mistake and the mistake I see others making in the work of making disciples? Not knowing my job.

I got out of who I am and what I do. I love how quickly Spieth got back to business on his last hole after his mistakes on the 71st hole. It took me half my life to fully realize I needed to give total concentration to my job. Which I love. I wish everyone in the world would join me in my job. Anyone can. Many of you already have. My job is being a Lover of God. Tell me, can you have a better calling in your life than that? All I do is love Jesus back, love those around me, and keep my ear open for cues from him during the day. Then do what he says.

Why? Because I know he has my best interests in mind.

My mistake with Michelle was that I attempted to be what Oswald Chambers calls an “amateur providence.” I am not in the fix-it business. I’m in caregiving, not caretaking. God does the fixing. Sometimes he uses doctors to help. I’m to stay in the love business. My job with my daughter was to be a loving father to her.

God doesn’t need amateur providences. He desires children who love him with heart, mind, and soul.

Jim Hiskey
July 15, 2015
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