American Idol

I love the show American Idol for many reasons but especially for exposing me to “Mandessa” and two of her songs, “Good Morning” and “Stronger”. They have become a part of my daily morning wake-up call! I love what God has done through her and her gift of music specifically for me. I also love how the show provides a platform for people who might not otherwise have a chance to “live a dream” with music. Contestants take a risk to showcase their God-given talents with the possibility of rejection and criticism, even though some need a little re-direction in my opinion! I admire their “GUTS”, no matter what.

Golf tournaments, especially amateur events, are kind of like an “American Idol”. It is a venue where golfers have a chance to compete to get to the next level, the ultimate, “The PGA or LPGA tour.” As in Idol, where most singers are looking for a record contract, most of these golfers would like a career in competitive golf and are looking for an opportunity to get invited to a PGA event. Just like Idol, not everyone in amateur golf makes it to the “TOUR”, or as an Idol contestant would say, “Not all walk away with a recording contract.”

While I was on the golf course in Hilton Head this past week, I was watching Thomas warm up for, what I call, an elite amateur event, “The Players Am.” There are certain guidelines and accomplishments you have to meet in order to be invited to one of these events. (An American Idol, so to speak, gets a ticket to “Hollywood,” to have a chance to get that contract. These golfers have played their way to an invitational event where they have a chance to win and then get an invitation to play in a PGA event.) To say the least, there was talent all over that driving range.

I watched all of the players hitting balls tirelessly in the heat and being very focused on the opportunity that lay in front of them. I love watching these young men because for the last 10 years I have gotten to watch them grow up and pursue their dreams. No doubt I will watch some of them on TV one day on the PGA tour and read about them. It is a true privilege to have stood on the fringe of the greens and watch them chase their dreams and hone their talent over the years. The thing I think I love the most is how they encourage each other. Often they will stand behind one another on the range to see if they can help someone who is struggling in an area of their game. There will only be one title holder at the end of the tournament and one invitation to a PGA event, But it won’t deter the others from continuing to work and pursue their dreams.

As I sat quietly watching them all, something grabbed my attention. It was this very small man who was happily going about his job. He filled up water buckets at each spot on the range where players would clean their clubs. He was pouring sweat. Next, I watched him fill up the drinking canisters with water and ice down more cold drinks in the coolers for all of the players. I even saw him stop to pick up empty bottles that hadn’t made it to the trash can. Later that day while Thomas was playing, I spotted him on the course doing the exact same thing. Still smiling. He so impressed me that first day, I looked for him the next day, and yes, there he was, doing the exact same thing, just as joyfully as the day before. And you guessed it, the third day was more of the same. The man had no thought of fame–being an American Idol or PGA tour player–and, for sure had no idea that someone was watching him, not one day, but three days in a row. His work ethic was the same as those of the aspiring golfers. He was sweating. He was focused. He was working hard and diligently. The difference to me was his “Joyful” attitude.

The small, hard-working, joyful man reminded me of Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

We can all learn from this illustration. When we work, who are we trying to please? God? Or our earthly Masters–bosses, ourselves, parents, coaches, teachers? You fill in the blank. The little, joyful man seemed to be working as if working to please the Lord. I don’t know for sure, but his actions and joyful expressions spoke volumes to me, and to Thomas, about the joy that can come when you focus your actions on pleasing God and not man.

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