Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Room to Grow

On Sunday Rory McIlroy won his fourth major golf championship: The US PGA Championship. In doing so he out played crowd favorite and winner of multiple majors, Phil Mickleson. He also staved off another up and coming young golfer in Ricky Fowler, and withstood a charge from world #4, Henrik Stenson.

McIlroy has now won 3 consecutive tournaments including two Majors. He is undoubtedly the hottest golfer on the planet and deservedly the #1 player in the world.

McIlroy is a golf prodigy and has had consistent success since first swinging a golf club at age 2. This photo montage by the BBC does a good job of tracking his career to this point.

In total, Rory has now won 4 Majors, joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Bobby Jones as the only players to win 4 majors at the age of 25 of less. As Tiger Woods has now not won a major since 2008 Rory looks like the player most likely to assume Tiger's spotlight. This article and it's graphs provides a good summary of the immense challenge that lies ahead for Rory if he's to catch either of them.

Tiger won his last PGA Championship in 2007. At that time Rory was 17. He was a talented golfer who already had an impressive list of accomplishments, but he didn't even turn professional until later in 2007. As Tiger lifted the trophy at Valhalla in 2007 no one thought a 17 year old amateur golfer in Northern Ireland might have a legacy to one day match Tiger and even Jack Nicklaus.

But there were some people who believed in McIlroy's potential. His parents, his coaches, his friends all supported his dream of becoming a champion golfer. They invested in his career at an early age. They spent money on him. The spent time on him. They passed on their experiences and helped him improve areas of his game that had deficiencies. While Rory appropriately gains all the credit for his play and accomplishments the culmination of his practice, focus, and skill, it's intriguing to consider how much of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement he's received throughout his life.

I wonder if sometimes our expectations for young people in our churches are too low. Look around your church. Is there a chubby faced 17yo who might one day make a mighty impact in this world for God? Can you see that person? Is anyone spending time with that person and helping them grow? I wonder how many 17 year olds we leave to find their own way in life because we don't purposefully pass on our experience and help them improve life skills where they have deficiencies.

Many churches invest heavily in their youth and have vibrant youth ministries run by fantastic youth ministers. But I wonder if you, the reader of this blog, make a spiritual investment in the lives of any young people? Are you more likely to ask a teenage boy about trying out for the football team, or his backswing, than you are to pray with him? Do you ever pray with him?

Young people in the church need to know that they're valued. We do this not just by throwing money at them, but by letting them know that we care about them and believe that God has a role for them in His mission. We equip them and help them identify their spiritual gifts. We give them opportunities to participate in the work of God now as training for the rest of their lives.

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Ephesians 4:12-13

BONUS MATERIAL: Since I started writing this post news has broken of Robin Williams death. As a tribute, here's his explanation of the origins of golf. :-)

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