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Tag Archives: golf

The Making of a Prodigy or A Waste of Time?

Prodigy’s are especially young individuals, endowed with exceptional abilities, talents and qualities.  When coaches, parents or teachers discover this gift, young people are often pushed to see how good or great they can be.  In some cases adults use these special children as pawns, attempting to live their lives through them.  If an endeavor results in a full college scholarship after years of dedication, practice and persistent is rewarded.  Yet; if these prodigy’s get burned out, lose interest or start to hate the sport they once loved, perhaps these years were a waste of time.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established, Proverbs 16:3.

As a former coach, I have seen my share of amazing athletes.  After spending three consecutive years at cross country nationals, I began to see key ingredients in becoming an elite runner.  Through conversations with other coaches and parents, most of the national champions joined a local running club early, some starting at the age of 6.  Meanwhile, as a high school golf coach, a similar connection can be made.  Competition, dedication to practice and a swing coach has resulted in one of the strongest classes of female golfers to come out of the state of Delaware.  I won’t be surprised if a few of these young women end playing on the LPGA tour after college.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

After I moved back to Delaware two decades ago, a friend gave me the phone number of Max Lucado’s editor.  I spent nearly thirty minutes asking a series of question, wanting to know what it takes to become a professor writer.  After sharing a brief summary of his road to success, one comment stuck out during our conversation.  “If you are going to take this seriously, you need to write full time for seven years to have any chance at getting recognized.”  This year marks my 7th year as an amateur screen writer.  After I submit my two scripts for the 2019 Nicholls Contest by the May 1st deadline, I won’t hear the results until July.  Nonetheless, I have taken a chance, invested hundreds of hours and have become vulnerable to rejection to pursue another dream.  Only time will tell if my attempt at becoming a prodigy writer will result in success or failure.

by Jay Mankus

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Falling Apart

If you have ever played golf or watched a high school match, you understand the expression falling apart. After coaching for a decade, there is nothing worse than observing a teenager lose their confidence. Since there is no coaching during a hole, all you can do is encourage, pray and uplift players on the verge of an emotional breakdown.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit, Psalm 34:18.

As a parent of a freshman and junior, I spend two days a week each spring following both of my kids. Today, a series of showers turned a warm overcast day into a fight for survival. When my daughter had a bad hole I switched over to watch my son who had his worst round of the season. Perhaps, I was the bad luck charm as wherever I went players kept falling apart.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

The Psalmist provides a message of hope for anyone on the verge of falling apart. David reflects upon a time in his life where his heart was broken and spirit crushed. When David pretended to be insane before Abimelech, he hit rock bottom, ashamed of his current state of mind. Yet, by the grace of God, the Lord brought David through this difficult time. The same applies today for anyone who falls apart. Thus, in future moments of despair, cry out to Jesus who promises healing and restoration to the brokenhearted.

by Jay Mankus

Evading Demons of Doubt

In the context of war, evasive maneuvers are employed by starship commanders to evade enemy weapons fire. Whenever planes are under attack, these tactics involve a sequence of defensive movements to escape a direct hit. During a scene from Independence Day, Bill Pullman who plays president Thomas Whitmore and former fighter pilot uses evasive maneuvers during an alien attack.

“Now when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through waterless (dry, arid) places in search of rest, but it does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So will it also be with this wicked generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

In the spiritual realm, its hard to respond to something that you can’t see. To those who are spiritually awake, the presence of demons can be sensed. However, there are certain steps that individuals can take to evade demons of doubt. The passage above eludes to sweeping your spiritual house clean. This involves setting your heart and mind on things above, not on earthly things. The apostle Paul uses this mental approach to evade demons, scars and ungodly beliefs from your past.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

Yesterday I was talking to a coach during my kids golf match. Unlike most sports, the game of golf can become extremely frustrating. One hole you can look like a professional and the next like you have never touched a golf club before. This mental anguish provides an open door for demons of doubt to creep in. Unless you follow the advice of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 whispers of “I can’t” will bombard your mind. Therefore, if you want to avoid demons of doubt, make sure you take your thoughts captive by making them obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Average Isn’t Good Enough

In the context of golf, average is like the par for each hole listed on a course’s scorecard. Amateurs golfers strive for par, hoping to take advantage of the easier holes. Meanwhile, the more difficult holes will challenge players, often satisfied with a bogey, one over par. This isn’t the case for professionals who will usually miss 36 hole cuts if they don’t shoot several strokes under par. Average golf professionals don’t last long on the PGA Tour, demoted to a lesser tour or forced to pursue another career.

Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen, Hebrews 5:11.

The Bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of average Christians. The author of Hebrews refers to an individual who is dull, ignorant and stubborn. Instead of reaching new heights, an unwillingness to listen has resulted in an average life. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the amateur dabbles, unsure of themselves. The professional is committed, determined and focused, possessing a faith in their God given talent. Most amateurs are content with their current status, falling back on another trade as their main career.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], Hebrews 5:12.

According to the Bible, God expects Christians to move beyond elementary principles. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of growing up, from a child into a man, 1 Corinthians 13:11. At some point, the Lord wants all believers to put aside childish ways. Modern churches use the confirmation process as a vehicle for growth, enabling teenage boys and girls to take ownership of their faith. As adults, God expects more, to move beyond an amateur mindset toward the devotion of a disciple. May this blog inspire souls to draw closer to Jesus, eager to serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Connection between Confidence and Passion

Whenever an individual experiences a glimpse of their full potential, an infusion of confidence emerges.  If this stretch continues for an extended period of time, passion is conceived to ignite future possibilities.  A recent example is my son Daniel, who shot one under par through a five hole stretch early last golf season.  When his chip for birdie lipped out on the hardest hole, excitement, hope and promise entered Daniel’s mind.  A few days later, during a spring break trip, Daniel stayed up past midnight, talking about his endless potential in golf.

Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:2-4.

Unfortunately, golf is like life, it can be cruel at times, leaving you lost as if you have never played this game before.  After a few embarrassing weeks on the course, confidence and passion left Daniel as quickly as it arrived.  As I look at my own life, I am going through a similar stage.  As I approach my 50th birthday, I have put most of my time and energy into writing.  When I endure numerous rejections with few signs of progress, I question if it’s worth continuing to write.  As my mind participates in a tug of war like the song Should I Stay or Should I Go, my inner confidence and passion has deflated.

Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him, Colossians 3:17.

The apostle Paul provides advice to anyone who has lost confidence and passion for life.  In a letter to the church of Colosse, Paul urges individuals toward a new mindset.  Instead of allowing self pity to develop, set your heart and mind on things above.  Don’t live for yourself; rather place all your onus on serving God.  When your life is all about you, confidence and passion can be like riding a roller coaster.  Yet, the moment you place your focus on eternity, your purpose for living changes.  Therefore, if you are like me, sick and tired of the highs and lows in life, let the Holy Spirit raise you up, fueled by a mind set on heavenly things.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Value…Show Me Your Money

Rod Tidwell is a fictional character played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire.  Tidwell is a veteran wide receiver in the National Football League who is about to become a free agent, looking for one final contract to secure his families financial security.  Tom Cruise plays a hot shot sports agent who is fired from the firm he helped built.  Thus, Cruise is left with one client, Tidwell, whose main request is “show me the money.”

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for [the hands of] the righteous, Proverbs 13.22.

As part of a small group Bible Study, my wife and I have to create a detailed budget to track where our money is being spent.  Upon completion, this spreadsheet will reveal what each of us value in life.  While the majority of our paychecks are spent on a mortgage, food and utilities, other interests will be unveiled by previous expenses.  I am not sure what the final results will uncover, but I am sure there are areas like fast food and golf that need to be reduced in the future.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:6-7.

According to the Bible, King Solomon is one of the richest and wisest to walk the face of the earth.  Thus, as this man shares some advice about financial matters in the passages above, its important to reflect upon this information.  Solomon places an emphasis on leaving a financial legacy for your children and grandchildren.  As this process is ongoing, Solomon urges individuals to educate your children about money.  Whether this is through allowances, chores or saving money, these practices help shape what your offspring value in life.  In other words, Solomon is asking what do you value?   If you want to know, show your spouse where your money is being spent.

by Jay Mankus

The Road to Mental Toughness

As an athlete, no one wants to be labeled soft.  This term can refer to being physically weak, emotionally unstable or immature mentality.  During my early years as a baseball pitcher, cross country runner and golfer, I let bad breaks rattle me.  When I was squeezed by an umpire, tired due to heat and experience a sudden wind gust blowing my ball into a hazard, I lost it.  Depending upon how I felt, I would cry, complain or become enraged by failure.  These setbacks exposed my lack of mental toughness, prompting me to start heading down this path to see what I was missing.

But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, 2 Timothy 3:16.

As a Christian, a trainer from Tentmakers Youth Ministry brought this weakness to my attention during a leadership training seminar.  To condense this observation, an advisor demonstrated how my emotions were influencing everyone around me.  When I was on fire for God, I lifted up everyone in the room that I walked into.  Unfortunately, whenever I was depressed, I didn’t want anyone to be happy, sucking the life out of a room.  This spiritual immaturity caused me to leave my youth ministry position in Columbus, Indiana after 16 months.  If I was mentally tough, I might still be in youth ministry.  Yet, I burned myself out after working 7 days a week for a year.

And how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 2 Timothy 3:15-16.

December 4th will mark my 34th anniversary of publicly proclaiming my faith in Christ.  The main lesson I have learned on the road to mental toughness is that the Bible plays a crucial role.  The apostle Paul details in the passage above the usefulness of God’s Word.  While there will always be areas of my life where I regress, the Bible has become a source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom.  The more I read, study and meditate upon God’s precepts, the stronger my mind becomes.  As I attempt to grow closer to the Lord daily, my prayers include a desire for my children to develop and display mental toughness.  May this blog encourage you to evaluate your own mind so that you too will strive to pursue the road toward mental toughness.

by Jay Mankus

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