My elderly mother lives with me. In spite of never playing the game she is a devoted fan of professional golf. Since she is slightly deaf, I often hear the tournament play-by-play coming from the TV in her room. Now, Mom’s favorite golfer is Phil Mickelson, and she was never fond of Tiger Woods, but it wasn’t necessary for her to talk about Tiger for me to know who he was and what he was doing in the golf world.
Until recently, the name Tiger Woods stood for excellence, focus and achievement. He was the poster boy for success in professional golf.
After the troubles and misbehaviors of his personal life became public he has become the butt of derisive jokes and a prime example of hubris, a runaway ego and shattered promises.
I have never followed golf or celebrity gossip, yet I have an opinion of who Tiger was and is. His fans must have even stronger opinions.
On the one hand his story is a reminder to us all not to put our faith in any mortal man, on the other hand it speaks to image and the impressions we make on others.
I’ve heard it said that Tiger’s excesses have tarnished the image of pro golf, if not of all pro sports. That is because before his fall from grace Tiger Woods had come to represent the best of that world.
I have to ask myself what worlds I may represent to the people I touch.
When I traveled to Italy a few years ago, perhaps I represented Americans to those I met. In my professional life I may represent a government employee, a member of the educational system, the County Department of Education or the Business Office, a coworker or friend. My influence may be stronger as the relationship gets closer. In my denomination I represent the women’s ministries as a member of the national executive committee.
My words and actions reflect back on each of these entities, for good or ill.
In every area of my life I try to be known as a Christian. That means that my choices also effect how others perceive Christ and his church.
The more closely I am identified with an organization or cause the more potential I have to influence others’ impressions of it. Every decision, every choice I make needs to be filtered through that reality.
What a responsibility. What an opportunity.