“I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.” – Mother Teresa
My father-in-law was such an avid golfer who spent so much time on the golf course that golf became almost synonymous with his identity. But as much as he was connected with the game of golf itself he was equally notorious for the rather colorful language he so often used while playing it. His golf game and his golf language sort of went hand in hand.
One particularly amusing story occurred several years ago when an unsuspecting stranger was assigned to my father-in-law’s foursome in a tournament. Thinking his profanities were directed at him – or anyone who happened to be within hearing distance – after the first few holes the poor guy was about to walk off the course having had enough of being offended. Then my father-in-law missed a put. “Ah, hit the *#!$%#@*# ball in the hole, you idiot!!” he blurted out at himself. Then the man realized my father-in-law’s profanities were not intended for him. Instead his criticisms were toward himself.
Now my father-in-law was an accomplished golfer and a student of the game from every aspect. Yet as far as I know throughout his seventy of so years of playing he won very few tournaments. But then winning was never his goal in the first place; rather for him it was all about the personal challenge of striving for excellence at his own game. Golf, you see, was more than a hobby for him, it was a calling, a way of life. It was how he connected with people – and how others connected with him. And as the unsuspecting stranger eventually learned, in spite of his notorious self-effacing outbursts my father-in-law was always a gentleman toward his fellow players.
For my father-in-law golf was all about striving for excellence, not attaining success. It was about faithfulness to his calling, not winning tournaments and trophies. That is why he was so hard on himself, why he is remembered as much by his colorful language as his love for the game – why so many of his missed puts were followed by his famous outburst, “Ah, hit the *#$%#@*# ball in the hole, you idiot!!” Even God must have been amused – who cares much more about faithfulness than success.