Rory McIlroy led the Masters golf tournament by four strokes heading into the final round. However, things fell apart for him on the back 9 and he finished in 15th place shooting a final round 80. “Being in the lead and winning is not the same thing,” he said. As a middle-aged man who just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary those words have stayed with me.
I want to finish my life well as I’m sure does everyone reading this post. I don’t want to be a person who was faithful into my late 40s or 50s and then throw it all away for momentary pleasure or reckless living. I don’t want to “blow it on my back 9.”
By comparison, there was another man playing golf on the final round, the eventual champion Charl Schwartzel. He shot a 66 in the final round, birdied the last four holes, and won by two strokes. Schwartzel played well all week but finished even stronger. That is what champions do. That is how I hope to finish my life.
The following are some leadership principles that can be gleaned from the April 18th Sports Illustrated recapping the tournament. To finish well, you must have:
- Correct Thinking – Geoff Ogilvy said of Schwartzel “He’s probably more sensible than most upstairs.” John Maxwell says “The difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how they think.” People who finish well have sensible thinking which results from a proper biblical worldview. Finishing well is a strong possibility when you have a deep love for God’s Word and allow it to permeate every area of your life.
- Accountability – Schwartzel’s lifelong friend is Louis Oosthuizen, the winner of the 2010 British Open. They have a healthy competition which makes each better. After watching him capture last year’s event, Schwartzel declared “I want one for myself.” After winning the Masters, he said “He inspired me so much. He made me think it’s possible to do something big like win a major.” Leaders, who do you have someone in your life who inspires you and helps you want to reach your full redemptive potential?
- Proper Daily Living – Living a God-honoring life on a daily basis, compounded over time, positions a person for a strong finish. Though he had yet to win in the United States, Schwartzel had six tour victories overseas. Phil Mickelson noted “We’ve seen in Europe and Africa that when he has a chance to win he usually does.” Leaders, when it comes to your integrity and character, if you are currently doing what is right when you have the chance, then you may have what it takes to finish well in the future.
- Commitment – Is finishing well important to you? If so, are you currently practicing the spiritual disciplines? “If he doesn’t have the best swing on Tour, it’s in the top two or three. He has a great short game and a great putting stroke” says Ovgilvy. Schwartz’s incredible skills were honed after countless hours of practice and private preparation. Leaders, are you disciplined and doing the things privately that are needed to one day publicly finish well?
“He’s a closer. There’s no higher compliment for a player” says Mickelson who would know. The more I think about it, there is probably no higher compliment for a Christian either.