President Bush’s Golf Handicap – Leadership Is Called to a Higher Standard
I recently read about a ban on golf that President Bush imposed upon himself on August 19, 2003 when a truck bomb in Baghdad killed more than a dozen people. He said that he received word of the attack while playing golf in Texas. He decided at that time that it was “not worth it anymore” to play the sport in a time of war. He explained, “I didn’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
While this is certainly a small sacrifice to make in comparison to the sacrifices of so many of our soldiers and their families, I was impressed by the fact that the President made a decision to eliminate an enjoyable activity from his life out of respect for our armed forces and their families.
“Every great leader throughout the course of human history has had to make sacrifices in his life in order to achieve his potential.”
This story caused me to ponder the great responsibility that we, as Christian leaders, have to hold ourselves to a higher standard in this time of spiritual warfare. As a pastor, a parent, a business leader, a teacher, or someone in any other capacity of leadership, it is vitally important for us to remember that we should keep some enjoyable, acceptable things out of our lives. Certain activities, characteristics, habits, and hobbies may be acceptable for most people, but they should be refrained from by those who want to be effective soldiers of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul explained this principle to the Christians at Corinth when he said, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient:” (I Corinthians 6:12). What was Paul teaching them? He was teaching that there were some things that he “could” spend his time with (lawful) that were not the greatest use of his life (expedient). He was teaching that sometimes “good” is the enemy of the “best” in our lives. He was teaching them that leadership is held to a higher standard.
In your life, what “lawful” activity or trait is holding you back from the next level of effectiveness for God? Every great leader throughout the course of human history has had to make sacrifices in his life in order to achieve his potential. There are things that everyone else may do, say, or be; but you know that it is not what God wants for you, your ministry, and your family. Just as golfing is not a sin or an unhealthy activity for most people, the President decided that it was not “expedient” given his position of leadership.
As leaders, we should seek to “raise the bar” in every area of our lives. The Apostle Paul was constantly striving, growing, and pressing forward for God. He chose to make great sacrifices in his life so that he might be used to make an eternal impact. Can the same be said of you? Are you willing to “raise the bar” so that God can take you to the next level for His glory? Consider the following areas of your life where you need to hold yourself to a higher standard:
- Walk with God – prayer, Bible reading, Scripture memorization
- Personal Discipline & Development
- Free Time – How do you spend your leisure time?
May I encourage you to write down a list of action items, outlining specific areas where you have been engaging in things that are lawful, but not expedient. Work, this week, to make significant improvements in these areas. Your labor in this regard will reap manifold dividends in the lives of those who follow you.
So often, we want people to do what we tell them to do. However, we cannot lead someone to a place which we have never been ourselves. If we lack holiness in our private lives, we will not produce holy followers with our public message. It has been wisely stated that “who you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” As leaders, we are responsible to set the example; and the example we set should inspire others to a higher standard in their lives.