Harvey Penick is one of golf’s legendary teachers and is known for shaping some of golf’s great talents like Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite into hall of fame golfers. But Crenshaw and Kite would be the first to say Penick’s influence extended way beyond the golf course and into life. He was a mentor in every way.
If you’ve heard my life’s story you’ve heard me mention Jack Countryman. Other than my father, Jack has been my life’s biggest influence. He has certainly been my biggest spiritual influence and it all began with my coming to faith in Christ through a little book titled, “In His Grip” and published by J. Countryman Division of Thomas Nelson (1997).
Early in my faith, I had a chance to play several rounds of golf with Jack. As we finalized the arrangements by phone, he said, “Scott, I really look forward to spending time with you, hearing your story and getting to know you.”
There is no way I could have anticipated the longterm impact those three days would have on my life or the influence Jack would eventually have over these past 19 years. It’s been a journey of receiving great wisdom and insight by a great mentor who has helped me navigate life’s fairways.
Soon after that initial encounter with Jack, I shared with him the idea I had regarding what has become In His Grip Golf Ministry. Jack patiently listened, made mental notes and I then asked for his opinion. I got three words: “Crawl, walk, run.”
Jack shared that it takes a minimum of two to three years to gain traction, and told me I must first crawl and learn best practices. I’ve learned those three words extended way beyond ministry. All of life is a process. You learn to trim the things that aren’t working, enhance the things that are working and then seek to make those things even better.
I also learned it’s a cycle. Just because you get to the running stage doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing. God will trim your sails to take you in new directions, to grow you and to keep you dependent on Him. After all, our lives are to be lived for His glory and His purposes regardless of our vocational direction in life. Jack helped teach me that lesson too.
I have valued Jack’s investment in my life so much that I’ve tried to replicate what he’s shown me about being a mentor by being a mentor to several young men over the years. There is no greater joy than helping someone’s faith take root.
What about you? Do you have a spiritual mentor in your life? if not, find someone farther down the road of faith than you and ask if they’ll meet you for coffee and talk through it. Then, find someone you could possibly mentor and reach out to that person. Jesus told us to make disciples and walking the road of life with someone is really how it’s done.
And believe me, those relationships are a lot more meaningful than being inducted into any hall of fame.