After weeks of spiraling rumors and speculation about infidelities and marital conflict Tiger Woods has made a decision. He will step away from golf and work on” becoming a better husband, father and person.”
No professional athlete has ever burst on the scene with greater talent and more success than Tiger Woods. No one has risen to such heights in such a short time, the world’s first $1 billion athlete. And perhaps none has fallen further faster than Tiger has fallen in the last three weeks. In that short time, Woods has gone from the pinnacle of sports with a pristine image to the butt of late night jokes and the number one subject for tabloids and gossip columns.
I have watched Tiger from the beginning of his professional career. I have been awed by his talent and skill, and, like millions of others, my interest in watching golf wanes when Tiger isn’t in the hunt. But I am glad to hear of his decision to step away from professional golf to work on his priorities.
No trophy, no professional accomplishment, no amount of wealth or fame is as important as nurturing the soul to be a better person. Life is ultimately about relationships, with God, our family, our friends and ourselves. And, for those relationships to be healthy, we must get our priorities straight. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?”
When Tom Landry was hired to coach the hapless Dallas Cowboys, a 1961 expansion team in the NFL with little hope of winning, he introduced himself to the team by telling them his priorities. He said he would put God first, family second, and then football. Bob Lilly, the all American recruit from TCU and the first draft pick in Cowboy franchise history, listened to Landry’s list of priorities and said to himself, “We will never win.” Years later, when Landry ended his career with 13 Divisional titles, 5 NFC titles and 2 Super Bowl rings, Lilly and others realized Landry had his priorities right. And, throughout his career, he helped others get their priorities right.
When our oldest son was struggling with how to find his way in the world, I reminded him that if he would put God first, everything else would come into focus. Fortunately he chose to do that. God has blessed him with a loving wife, three beautiful children and a Christian home.
Millions of marriages are in trouble. Many are walking away from responsibilities at home. Millions are sacrificing family relationships and responsibilities for career advancement and wealth. I am praying for Tiger Woods and his family. I am praying he will emerge from this tragic moral failure and set an example of recovery for others who are struggling with greater issues than how to play golf. I would like to see Tiger Woods play professional golf again and I expect he will. But I am more concerned that he, like all the rest of us, discovers the priorities that will last a lifetime and more.