by Jason M. Karampatsos, PhD
What does “to shoot par” mean for you? I learned this weekend that it all depends on who you spend time with. I enjoy the game of golf, and I have strengthened many of friendships on the links. I initially took up the game of golf—while in high school as something I could do with my future wife (and then girlfriend)—and it has become a hobby of mine long after my wife’s interest in the game has faded. I have never been particularly good at the game of golf. In high school, I would frequent a par 3 course back in New England and would regularly shoot a mix of birdies, pars, and bogey (and double bogey) ending a quick 9 holes around par. If you are a golfer of any level you know that is “on par” with a good day of miniature golf. Recently I had written to some new friends that I shot par a few times last year leading to some miscommunication and a learning experience for me. I have golfed with some good golfers, but most of them are in the same league as me. We golf for fun, and aren’t framing any of our score cards. For golfers, real golfers, when they hear the phrase shot par a few times they understand that to mean that, over the course of a full 18 holes, they are a zero handicap, usually shooting 72.
For me, shooting par simply means that on a single hole I managed to not lose my ball and sink the ball in 3 or 4 strokes. I can usually manage that a few times an outing, but the double bogey and snowmen (8) catch up to me. The very definition of a phrase can be subjectively applied based upon the circle of friends you spend time with, where you live, or your life experiences. Sitting in traffic, having a tough day at work, and the weather being hot outside are all relative terms for those who live in the country (or city), work as a librarian (or serve in the military), or live in the north east (or deep south). This also reminded me that just as iron sharpens iron, the higher the caliber of “iron” you spend time with the sharper you will be able to become. I am going to continue to golf with the same circle of friends, but in other areas of life I will be ever more mindful that I am spending time with those who define goals and objectives by a higher standard.
In areas of integrity, our relationship with God, our spouse, and our children we ought not allow ourselves to grade on a curve. We ought to strive for the highest goals and strictest definition of what it means to be a Christian, a good spouse, or a loving parent. Just because you may know some people who struggle more than you ought not be an excuse you allow yourself to use to lower your standards. You can take a mulligan in golf, but not in life. As C.T. Studd famously penned, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”