Last Thursday, when pro golfer Steve Stricker teed it up at the TPC Deere Run course in Silvis, Illinois, for the John Deere Classic, he was stepping into an extraordinary opportunity. He had the chance to win the John Deere tournament for the fourth straight year. While not one of golf’s major tournaments, the Deere is a solid tournament with a strong field, making Stricker’s consistent excellence there something worthy of our attention. The Wisconsin native has had a challenging year this year, but has, nevertheless, already carded one tournament victory for the season. Over the last few years, he has consistently been among the world’s best and is one of the most respected players on tour. All that for a guy who does not have a splashy, flashy game—just a consistent swing and a brilliant putting stroke. It has not been eye-popping drives or energetic charisma that have brought Strick to where he is in the world of professional golf. It has been a commitment to consistent excellence.
A commitment to excellence is also a part of living for Christ in a broken world. The apostle Peter wrote about the development of a life that has eternal impact, saying:
Make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8 NLT).
Notice, of course, that it all begins with a faith relationship with God through Christ, but that faith does not then stand alone. It results in a life of “moral excellence”—virtue, character, integrity—that continues to build toward a heart that truly represents Christ and powerfully impacts others. Our challenge is to be committed to lives that will display such excellence, not to draw attention to ourselves, but to the Christ in whom we have placed our faith. As we display that moral excellence (and the resulting evidence of spiritual character it feeds), we have a tremendous opportunity to become “productive and useful” (v.8) in our knowledge of the Savior who is being formed in us.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain