Scottie Scheffler after his Masters triumph

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Scottie Scheffler after his Masters triumph

“Winning this golf tournament does not change my identity”

April 16, 2024 -

Scottie Scheffler holds the trophy after winning the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Scottie Scheffler holds the trophy after winning the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Scottie Scheffler holds the trophy after winning the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Monday was one of those days when I wished I could publish two Daily Articles in a day. I needed to respond to the global implications of Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel, but I would rather have written today’s article instead.

I have followed Scottie Scheffler’s golf career over the years with great interest. In part, this is because he and our sons graduated from the same high school in Dallas. I have also been impressed by his remarkable success at such an early stage in his career. But my major reason for watching Sunday’s final round of the Masters was because I deeply admire the way his faith influences his life.

After becoming only the second golfer in history to win two Masters championships in his first five years on the tour, he told interviewers: “I believe in Jesus. Ultimately, I think that’s what defines me the most.” He added: “I’ve been called to come out here, do my best to compete, and glorify God. That’s pretty much it.”

Scheffler met his caddy, Ted Scott, at a Bible study and together they co-host an annual retreat with members of the College Golf Fellowship, a faith-based ministry. Even a profile on CBS Sports acknowledges the depth of his faith and his belief that his identity is “secure in the cross.” The article closes with this statement by Scheffler:

“Winning this golf tournament does not change my identity. My identity is secure, and I cannot emphasize that enough.”

Scottie Scheffler’s public commitment to Christ illustrates an empowering fact believers can embrace in our ever more secularized culture.

Human flourishing and religious activity

April is Stress Awareness Month, but every month could carry the same emphasis:

  • Americans are sleeping less and more stressed than in the history of Gallup’s polling.
  • 70 percent of American adults are stressed about money.
  • The American Psychological Association lists the COVID-19 pandemic, global conflicts, inflation, racism and racial injustice, and climate-related disasters as contributing to our “collective trauma.”
  • Stress is so prevalent that Bloomberg calls it “the great unifying force in America right now.”

Our loneliness epidemic contributes directly to our stress. Researchers report that those with a negative sense of community have “significantly higher odds of reporting depression, anxiety, and stress symptoms.” Loneliness has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and a host of other maladies. Research indicates that loneliness is worse for our health than smoking, obesity, or alcoholism.

Interestingly, an agnostic writing for the Atlantic identified the decline of faith in America as a major reason for our lack of community and its damaging effects. Derek Thompson points to studies indicating that religiously unaffiliated Americans are less likely to volunteer, less likely to feel satisfied with their community and social life, and more likely to say they feel lonely.

He writes: “I wonder if, in forgoing organized religion, an isolated country has discarded an old and proven source of ritual at a time when we need it most.”

By contrast, Gallup’s recent Global Flourishing study reveals a clear connection between human flourishing and religious service attendance. Numerous other studies show the benefits of religious practice for mental health, marital stability and happiness, lowered crime rates, and physical health.

However, our most powerful argument for the relevance of faith to life is made not by studies and statistics but by stories.

Reprimanding George Washington

Christians who leverage their public influence to glorify God impact our culture in transformative ways. When Scottie Scheffler tells the world that his identity is centered not in golf but in Christ, millions of golf fans and others take note. When he treats his fellow competitors with respect and responds to success with humility, even skeptics are impressed.

The reason is simple: people can reject our words and refute our research, but they cannot deny our personal stories. They cannot say that our experiences are not our experiences. When our faith changes our lives in practical ways, others take note.

To illustrate: Harvard history professor James Hankins published a fascinating essay in First Things profiling the power of our public example. In it, he reports that George Washington regularly attended public worship services at Anglican churches and was seen to lead prayers on public occasions. While president, however, he was reprimanded by his minister from the pulpit for leaving the service before communion.

A lesser chief executive would have taken offense, but President Washington did not. Rather, he apologized for setting a bad example and promised it would not happen again. It didn’t—the president simply skipped the occasional services where communion was offered, likely because of his dental problems. He knew the power of his example and employed it well.

Let’s close with one more story illustrating the power of stories. When Jesus healed a person who had been born blind and skeptics accosted the man for an explanation of what had happened to him, he simply said: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).

How has Jesus done the same for you?

Whom will you tell today?

Tuesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.” —George Whitefield

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