From Ron Boehme, Director of Youth With A Mission US Renewal
Like millions of people who look to you as the number one golfer in the world, I’ve been stunned by the events of the past few weeks. The SUV accident doesn’t make sense to any thinking person and your first explanation was lame and awkward. Avoiding the police regarding the car crash was the next red flag. Then the revelations of adulterous affairs and finally an apology for “transgressions” blew the lid off your personal and family life.
The Tiger Woods mystique is now severely shattered and, I must say, you are are acting like someone who’s been caught red-handed, but doesn’t know what to do.
I’m greatly disappointed in you as a sports figure that many young people admire and look up to. I’ve also been praying for you and your family–and it is out of those prayers that I offer some advice that I hope will be a blessing to you, Elin, your kids, and others who read it. I hope these thoughts somehow find their way to your home in Florida. If they don’t make in a printed form, I pray they will be revealed to you by the One who holds each of our futures in the palm of His hand.
Tiger–I’m certainly not able to give you advice about golf. But as a faithful husband and father of thirty-three years, I can give some advice about life. To put it simply, you must apply to your spiritual and moral life what you’ve learned as a golfer. If you don’t, all the money and trophies you earn won’t mean a hill of beans.
The world has seen your incredible discipline–the laser-beam, focused concentration. We’ve been amazed at your will to win and the self-control you exercise to reach the lofty goal of being the best golfer in the world.
Using your God-given talents with a high degree of focus, will, concentration, and skill, we’ve watched you win many majors. Your first Masters at Augusta was a beauty–a 12 stroke victory at the age of 21– a work of perfection. We’ll never forget your tearful embrace of your dad at its conclusion. Your last US Open was the stuff of legend–as you limped around the course on a painful knee that afterwards required surgery.
But none of those majors or any of the British Opens of PGA titles compare to the most important major of your life that you are now facing. That major has to do with your character, family, and relationship to your Creator. We want to win the most important major of your life–the Tournament of Life. Your human existence and future in eternity are more than a game–they are for keeps. Play them well and you are blessed. Play them poorly and you could be cursed forever.
Using some golfing imagery with which you are familiar, I submit some thoughts to you on how you can now get back up and win the game of life. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Survey the Hole
In many golfing tournaments we’ve watched you carefully walk around the tee looking out over the hole and analyzing the correct approach to take. That’s what you need to do with your life right now. You need to carefully look at what you’ve done, what it means, and what you need to do to get it back on track.
As you gaze at the “Hole of your Life,” it’s fair to say that there’s some green fairway in front of indicating that you’ve accomplished some good things in your 34 years. But what has also become apparent is that you’ve hooked some balls into the water on the left, and sliced some balls into the sand traps on the right. You’re actually in big trouble on this hole, you can’t take a mulligan, and a very bad score just might ruin your entire tournament.
Only one course of action will save you. Honesty. Yes, simple honesty. We all learned that lesson in kindergarten with the memorable chorus which went, “”H-O-N-E-S-T-Y no matter what the consequences be, is the very best P-O-L-I-C-Y.” It was true then when life was simple. It is even more true now when yours has become extremely complex.
Coverup was your first mistake two weeks ago. You weren’t honest. Your handlers gave you bad advice. You dug yourself a hole that is presently swallowing you. If you want to move forward and leave this nightmare behind, you need to have the guts, passion, and focus to be honest about your life. Tell the world what really happened the night of the crash. What precipitated the accident? How have you failed your wife and family? What has been the extent of your extramarital affairs? Has there been one, three, ten or fifty? Is there anything else the world needs to know about the real Tiger Woods?
You don’t need to go into painful details–just the overall facts flowing from a humble heart. You’ve just experienced the truth of the first half of Proverbs 28:13 that says “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper.” If you are honest and humble, you will soon learn to appreciate the second half of that wise proverb, “But he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain compassion.”
Then step to the tee and take the next big swing.
2. Drive the Ball
Many of us have marveled at the awesome drives you’ve crushed at many a tournament with a one or two wood. The drive you need to hit now is the biggest of your life and will take the greatest effort. No irons or woods will do. In this one, you need to crush your own pride and submit your very disciplined will to the Creator of us all–the God of the universe. You not only need to be honest about your sins, you need to repent of those sins before your Maker and ask him to forgive you.
It’s time for you and all the rest of us to stop hiding behind the meaningless phrase that “I’m not perfect.” Everyone already knows that. The God who made you knows it in complete detail. But your humanness or fallenness is not an excuse to live an evil, reprobate life. You are responsible for your actions, you messed up big time, and it’s time to turn around and ask forgiveness of all those you’ve sinned against.
Start with God–I’ve never heard you talk about him in an interview. I don’t think you know him well–but He knows you intimately and you’ve hurt him the most by your selfish behavior. Confess your sins to Him. Then confess to your wife, your children, and any others you have harmed by your actions. I once made list of every sin I ever remembered committing–then followed through with asking people’s forgiveness for each one of them. That exercise set me free to live a joyful and holy life. Acts 3:19 says, “Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins. Then wonderful times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.”
Crush your pride, Tiger, with a mighty swing of repentance. That will put you within striking range of your next important shot.
3. Chip to the Green
You’re so good at this in golf, but have been very bad at it in life. Chip shots need to be precise with perfect aim at their desired destination. Tiger, the only person who has the power to forgive and transform your life is Jesus Christ. Not Mohammed, Confucius, Buddha or Mother Earth. There’s only one empty tomb–and its his–Jesus. You’ve used his name in swearing many times–now you need to use it to receive the gift of his salvation. Acts 4:12 rightly says, “There is salvation in no one else. There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.”
Tiger, Jesus died on a cross in your place to save you from the many sins you’ve committed. He did that for us all. Believe in God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus and you will be saved, forgiven, and become a new person. It’s happened to millions of us, It can happen to you.
Want to change your present circumstances? Want to silence the tabloids and paparazzi? “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Give them nothing to write about except a forgiven, changed, godly life. Then use your incredible gift of perfectionism to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (Hebrews 12:14). Biblical perfection is the maturity of a righteous and good life.
So make that precise chip shot of faith in Christ, and then…
4. Hole the Putt
The final shot is also something you’re good at–for birdies or eagles. In the game of life, this shot applies to making the commitment, through the power of Christ’s Spirit within you, to be faithful to your wife and a good dad to your beautiful children. You can do it, Tiger. It doesn’t matter how long the putt is or how tricky the green. In the same way you study grass contours and softness or hardness, study your wife and family and learn how to serve them in unselfish fidelity and love. God will show you how to act, and help you line it up perfectly.
I’m one grateful man who married a wonderful woman, produced six great kids, and together have maintained a completely faithful marriage for over three decades. Many of us are doing it because Jesus gives us the power and the grace. You can do it too. Not because you’re Tiger Woods. But because you, too, can become a child of God that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4).
Tiger, you can be an overcomer of some very bad choices and ugly public gossip by honing your skills in the Tournament of Life. This is the most important major of your life. Through honesty, repentance, faith, and fidelity you can show the world the traits of a true champion.
If you do these things, then you’ll ultimately receive the only trophy that matters–the crown of eternal life. And your Heavenly Father will also give you a big hug and proudly exclaim, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.”