By Derek Maul

Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said: “If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34.

Last week I met my friend for golf. It was a good day; lots of fun and great company. But I played awful. Ballooning drives onto the ladies tee; shanking wedges into trees; three-putting from 10-feet; topping the ball 20-yards along the ground instead of 150 through the air.

But I figured out what was wrong, and it highlights a key “live like you mean it” concept. I was relaxed, confident, and didn’t swing too hard – all good from a “don’t let tension in your game” point of view. But the result was disastrous because I violated the most important credo: I failed to completely commit to my shots.

Committing means hitting the ball like I mean it. It doesn’t matter if I whack a lob-wedge 80-yards, a driver 250 yards down the fairway, or a short putt that curls gently to the left; once I have decided what to do, I need to engage what comes next with purpose – or the result is going to be poor focus, worse execution, and then disaster.

Here’s how it works vis-à-vis faith: We get involved with a church, we generate some excitement and some motivation, we develop some confidence, and we begin to get comfortable. And we follow Jesus, we live as disciples, and we settle in. And then we begin to violate the single most important credo if we want to do this faith thing well: We fail to completely commit.

We pull back from complete commitment when it comes to following Jesus, and we lose our focus as committed disciples in the community of faith. In consequence, rather than living victorious lives, we begin to lose ground, and we get discouraged.

There’s only one way to get back on track; there’s only one way to get things turned around. And that – we’re still talking about faith here – is to completely commit.

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at