Pastor Phil McCutchen

Tension is not your friend

Isaiah 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

One of the reasons I appreciate golf is because so many of the lessons of life are reinforced on the golf course.  Stuff like , “playing the ball where it lies,” the importance of a good grip to and always having to be aware of how your behavior is impacting the other players are reminders of how to truly live the Christian life.  But the most important lesson for me by far personally is the relationship between tension and undesirable results.

Recently the actor Matthew McConaughey was asked by Golf Channels David Faherty about the secret of his good golf swing.  McConaughey responded, “the same thing that sabotages good acting is the same thing that sabotages a good golf swing, tension.” So the next time I went to the golf course, I made it a point to focus on one thing and that was to take the tension out of my swing.  I was surprised how many times the ball went further and straighter when I simply purposed to feel as little tension in my arms as possible.

Later I pondered, “what if I did that with my every day , walking around life?”  What if I tried to speak my words with as little tension in them as possible, looked around with as little tension in my gaze as possible and even thought about stuff with as little tension in my thoughts as possible.  Remember truth is portable. If something works in nature, sports and commerce it also works in our spirituality and our interpersonal relationships.

Now some of the reasons we put so much tension in our thoughts, words and actions is because tension is so deceptive.

  • Tension masquerades as strength
  • Tension masquerades as concern.
  • Tension masquerades as effort.
  • Tension masquerades as intelligence.
  • Tension masquerades as a feeling of power.

To this last point, tension often gives us the illusion of authority because there are always people who bend to our will if we communicate with panic.  But if you use tension as your primary leadership tool, people will soon start seeing you as the “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf!”  People learn to tune out the “Chicken Little” leader for whom the sky is always falling.  

The positive results of tensions are all illusions.  I am convinced there are really no positive benefits to being tense. Tension reduces strength.  You may think holding the golf club with a death grip is going to make the ball fly further but it actually reduces your club head speed, it actually translates into weakness  and misdirection.  Tension is perverted concern because it’s really about the fear of how a bad result feels to you not others.  When we are tense we mostly project our feelings on others rather than rightly interpreting the feelings of others. Also tension may feel like effort but it mostly paralyzes us from action. Tension is not our friend.

The Bible says, “we are to cast all our care on him, for he cares for us.”  The scripture doesn’t say we should hand to God our workload, but we can hand to God the worry, anxiety and tension of our workload.  In golf we are taught to have a single swing thought each time we step up to the ball.  This is because it takes a dozen or more things to go right for a good shot, but you’ll be overwhelmed if you try to think more than one thought.   So what could God do in my life this day and this week if I will do all the things I planned to do but with the peace that comes from trusting my heavenly father to care more more for me than I care for myself?  Let’s find out.