During this past weekend’s television coverage of the Open Championship from England, we were reminded in a video clip of a previous Open played at Royal Lytham and St. Anne’s. It was in 2001, and Ian Woosnam started the day with the tournament lead. Then, on the second tee, his caddie told him they were carrying too many clubs (an extra driver was in the bag). Woosnam was assessed a two-stroke penalty which, effectively, took away his chance to win. It was any pro golfer’s worst nightmare. In his post-tournament press conference, Woosnam admitted that, though it was his caddie’s job to keep track of the clubs, he should have checked the bag personally. In his disappointment, Woosnam took responsibility for the situation.
In sports and in life, that willingness to accept responsibility is becoming increasingly rare. Our tendency is to shift blame to others rather than to accept responsibility for our troubles, mistakes, or failures—and it began in the garden of Eden. When our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into sin, they were confronted by the God they had disobeyed. Adam’s response? To blame his wife (and, ultimately, God Himself) pointing his finger at “the woman you gave me” (Gen. 3:12). Eve’s response? To blame the serpent (3:13). In both cases, the man and the woman had made their own choices. They had made their own decisions. Yet, in both cases, they blamed others for their failures.
King David, when confronted by the prophet Nathan for his sin with Bathsheba, faced his failure head-on, saying to his God:
Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge (Psalm 51:4).
That acceptance of responsibility is a necessary part of confession—and confession is critical to restoring our relationship with God when it has been broken by disobedience. As John wrote:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Our loving heavenly Father stands ready to cleanse and forgive—we need to be willing to accept responsibility.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain