Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary
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Who Has Changed Your Life?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Sep 02

Posted by Jim_Daly Aug 31, 2011



Is there one person you can point to who helped “turn the tide” in your life?

When I think about that question, my mind immediately settles on a man named Mo - my high school football coach. At the time, my life was a mess. Without a parent to guide me, Coach Mo became my mentor. He encouraged and believed in me. He didn’t just teach me about football. He was a steady, dependable, wise and bold influence. And through an invitation of his to attend a meeting hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), he even helped lead me to the Lord

To put it bluntly, I'm not sure where I would be without Coach Mo.

Although profoundly personal, my experience is not all that unique. God works through every circumstance, of course, but especially through people. A mentor can be a mighty game-changer, but only if we're willing to humble ourselves and listen to what they might say – or show us.

In many ways, mentoring is a lost art. Busy and transient lives leave little room for helping other people. You might think you don’t have the energy to deliberately reach out and work with another person. But what about those serendipitous encounters, those moments when we might meet someone out of the blue?  They do happen – but again – we have to be attentive and responsive in order to recognize them.

Opening in theaters this weekend is a terrific story of just such a moment. Seven Days in Utopia is an inspirational movie about God’s mysterious ways, and how significance will always trump success.

The film, starring Hollywood legend Robert Duvall, is based on the bestselling book, Golf’s Sacred Journey. Its author, David L. Cook, is a sports psychologist, author and speaker who has worked with more than 100 professional golfers, as well as Olympians and NBA athletes.

In the story a professional golfer, fictional Luke Chisolm, has a meltdown in the midst of a big tournament. The golfer’s caddie also happens to be his father, who has pushed him to excel his entire life. Finally, in a fit of rage and exasperation, the golfer bolts from the tournament. He soon finds himself deep in the Texas hill country, and upon running his car off the road, meets his version of Coach Mo. The man’s name is Johnny Crawford, a retired golf-pro turned rancher. Weather beaten and folksy, and played beautifully by Duvall, Johnny promises to help him “find” his game. We quickly learn, however, that the young man’s problems are not rooted in golf, but in his understanding of the meaning of life itself. 

I'd like to share a clip of the movie with you:


It can be difficult to receive honest feedback, to be sharpened by another person. But I’ve discovered that’s where and when the fun really begins. It's also where life takes on its deepest meaning and takes its most exciting turn. If you want to improve the shape and substance of your character, you have to be willing to surround yourself with people who will sharpen and even challenge you. Seven Days in Utopia delivers this very message loud and clear, and in a moving and meaningful manner.

I’d encourage you to read the book, or see the movie – or both! But most importantly, I’d encourage you to examine your own life and, if you’re willing, answer this question for me:

Who has changed your life?

And of equal importance – in whose life are you investing, serving as a mentor and friend?

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