What's On Your Mind?

Have you noticed how psychology is used in assessing sports today? I hear golf caddies going back and forth with PGA golfers as they review their play pad of notes about distances and club choices. Sometimes these conversations are enhanced by a microphone nearby that allows me to hear the substance of these collaborations. Recently, I heard Tom Lewis' caddie give this final word of advice before the next stroke, "Just trust your numbers!" I could hear in that phrase an attempt to encourage and bolster confidence in one's competence and experience.

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After another hard fought game in a losing season that ended in an extra inning win this time for my languishing St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, I listened as manager, Mike Shildt, summarized the game using a bit of psychology during his post-game interview. He responded to a reporter's question by saying, "Very gritty win... scratching and clawing! Grit's an amazing attribute in individuals and in teams. The rearview mirror is smaller. You learn from it! The front windshield is larger. You move forward! You can't stay in a place that is not healthy. You forget how you got here and you can't get bogged down! You gotta move forward!"

I'm sure that Shildt is dealing with a lot of players who are down on themselves, the manager and the coaches, too! The team is playing below .500 ball and has fallen to next to last place in the Central Division. Expectations were high at the beginning of the season, but injuries have plagued the pitching and position player staffs. Many see their hopes of a division title dashed as we approach the All-Star break. I hear commentators saying, "This is baseball!" But, I think many season ticket holders would counter, "This is not my idea of baseball!"

Dr. Bob Rotella is a well-known sports psychologist. He is a professor, motivational speaker and advises some of today's top athletes and coaches from the NBA, NCAA, MLB and PGA. Golfers coached by him have won more than 300 tournaments and 74 majors. Needless to say, Rotella's psychology is much in demand! Here is what he says about golf (and I think it must apply to other sports as well!), "Golf is a game of confidence and competence. I believe it is impossible to over estimate the importance of the mind in golf." ( Dr. Bob Rotella: Inside the Golfer's Mind | Instruction | Golf Digest ).

The Apostle Paul loved the Philippian church. This is the only church that Paul had fully allowed to encourage and financially support him. In turn, Paul had encouraged and prayed for the Philippians on numerous occasions. He advised them to fill their minds with the kind of thoughts that would inspire worship and service to others. In a summary statement, Paul exhorted his dear friends in the church to fill up their minds with "whatever is true, honorable, pure, lovely, and commendable. If there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8, ESV).

Paul's list of things calling us to better mindfulness is a pretty tall order! However, the Apostle added to the list some wise advice as well, "Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me - everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9, NLT). When the God of peace is with us, there is peace with the Father and peace within His children. This peace is a good, constructive and necessary outcome of sound thinking!

The next time you find yourself living "in the rear mirror" and you feel like you have lost confidence in what God can do in and through your life, try filling your mind with better thoughts! Doc Rotella is almost preaching when he predicts, "If your mind is full of bad thoughts, your scorecard is going to be full of bad strokes!" 

Think about these things!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com 

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