Links Daily Devotional

The Ultimate Apprenticeship: Golf for People

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to [golf] for people!” (Matthew 4:19, NLT)

One of the defining moments of my life happened in a conversation in the Men’s Grill at Atlanta Country Club in 2010. I had recently qualified for the Canadian Tour and had played my first two events in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Victoria, British Columbia. At age 31, I was setting out to self-fund a career in professional golf but realized very quickly that I was going to need more capital to do so. So, I set up a meeting with two accomplished businessmen in Atlanta that I knew well to discuss raising funds for my pursuit.

Thirty minutes into my presentation to these men, one of them stopped me and said, “Josh, is this a professional golf career or ministry that you are raising money for?”

Jesus did not emphasize a belief system or start a new religion; rather, he emphasized imitation and followership of him.Instead of laying out a path to success as a professional golfer, all I had been talking about was the relationships I was developing with other players and the ministry I was having to them in my travels. This question hit me right between the eyes; my purpose was not to play golf, but to golf for people. It was that conversation that led me to Links Players, and I am so thankful for how the Lord used that meeting.

Many of us are familiar with how Jesus first called his group of followers and learners that we call disciples. He started with several fishermen in a region called Galilee that were possibly familiar with his growing reputation as a teacher but likely had not known him personally. One day he walked up to several of these men and said, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” We can read about this in the early parts of each of the gospel accounts, and then we can then read about the apprenticeship process that Jesus took these students through over the next three years.

What I’ve come to realize is that Jesus has called each of us into the same thing through one of two areas: our vocation or our avocation. For only a few of us, golf is vocation; for the rest of us, golf is an avocation. Regardless of your vocation or avocations, Jesus has called each of us into the apprenticeship process with him, and he wants to teach us how to use our areas of work, interests, passions, or hobbies as places of ministry for the good news of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

What’s interesting about the apprenticeship of Jesus’ disciples is that he did not ask them at the start who they thought he was or if they believed he was the Messiah; instead, he gave them a much bigger picture of the result of what they were going to one day do with what they were about to learn. Not coincidentally, according to the Gospel of Matthew, the final command Jesus left his disciples with was, “Go and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

Jesus did not emphasize a belief system or start a new religion; rather, he emphasized imitation and followership of him—the manifestation of God to man. He called us into the ultimate apprenticeship so that we would be equipped to do the same work he did in all areas of work and/or play. If you are a golfer, then we invite you to join us in our mission of changing the conversation at your local club or golf course by learning how, or teaching others how, to golf for people.

Josh Nelson
April 26, 2016
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