Every golfer knows that what goes on between the ears is just as critical for success as all the other mechanics that go into a golfer’s game. In fact, long after you have mastered the mechanics of a smooth, skillful golf swing, the mental game continues to be the greatest obstacle for the advanced golfer.
Tiger Woods and every other professional golfer is most haunted by the subtle attacks of the mind. These guys have mastered the swing techniques and skills of the game. But one bad shot or one poorly played hole can set off a chain reaction and downward spiral into mental weakness and lack of confidence. A short 15 inch putt that typically gives us no problem can suddenly become worrisome and anxiety-inducing. The cup gets smaller and smaller in our mind’s eye. We get caught up in what we call a “mind game” and end up choking.
In other words, our mind becomes our worst enemy and most formidable opponent on the course. You will never beat Tiger Woods by skill alone. However, if you could somehow “get into his mind” and join forces with negative, self-defeating thought patterns already at work, then you might be able to break him down a bit and possibly have a chance.
When it comes to Christian discipleship, our success or failure is intimately tied to the life of the mind as well. The most fundamental aspect of Christian faith is coming to an accurate understanding of God and a true view of the world. Christian discipleship is all about conforming our minds and wills to the truth of God revealed in the mind and will of Christ (cf. Rom 12:2).
“Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…” (Phil 2:5)
Just like in golf, our greatest battle is waged in our mind. Just as Tiger Woods is most vulnerable when you start messing with his mind, so our great enemy, Satan, wages war within in our mind — planting seeds of doubt, fear, insecurities, worries, suspicions, and other anxieties.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12).
Satan gets into our head, and feeds upon our mental weakness and failures, like that sinister voice telling you you’re going to miss that putt or duff that sand wedge — and then, of course, you do!
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).
Just as our “mind games” are toughest in those areas of our golf game where we are least confident and weakest, so Satan attacks our spiritual life in those areas where we are farthest from God.
So, which part of your spiritual game is weakest? Where are you most vulnerable to the attacks of the Evil One? Do you have a spiritual coach in your life, speaking the truth into your ears when you’re overwhelmed with all the lies of the Enemy? Join me in the lifelong battle of daily taking every every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ!