Christian Financial Advice and Biblical Stewardship

A Lesson from Tiger's Tale

  • 2009 8 Dec
A Lesson from Tiger's Tale


What Went Wrong?

I'm not usually much of a celebrity gawker.  But I have to admit that I have been completely drawn in to the sad story of Tiger Woods' "transgressions."  Golf is my favorite sport and I have spent many a Sunday afternoon watching Tiger achieve yet another impressive victory.  He is unlike any other golfer I have ever seen in his ability to pull off miracle shots, come back from huge deficits, shake off mistakes, and as we saw at the 2008 U.S. Open, play through the sort of pain that would sideline the toughest of NFL football players.

For one who so embodied success, it was stunning to see him fail in such a swift and ugly fashion.  At least, that was my first reaction.  But my second reaction was to realize that I had simply made the mistake of all who put celebrities on a pedestal - assuming that one who displays seemingly superhuman traits in one arena of life probably lives a superhuman life in all arenas.

Still, I have lots of questions about what led Tiger Woods to, as he put it, let his family down. The one thing that's been bothering me the most is this: Wasn't there anyone in his life who was holding him accountable?  Wasn't there anyone who knew how Tiger was spending his personal time and felt the freedom or had the courage to say something?

Minimizing the Risk of Failure

I believe one of the most essential ingredients for success is accountability. It is a rare and precious gift to have someone to whom we can tell the truth about our fears, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities.  Someone who will not only give us those much needed words of encouragement whenever doubts or fears creep in, but who also has permission to challenge us when they see us taking short cuts or drifting off course from our commitments or integrity.

Financially speaking, what are some of the risks you face in the year ahead?  Where are you vulnerable?  What temptations are you dealing with?  Perhaps you'd like to get out of debt, but you often feel strong, seemingly uncontrollable urges to spend more than you should.  Maybe you're toying with some high-risk ideas for quickly regaining some ground in your retirement accounts.  Does anyone know?

More importantly, maybe you're wrestling with some temptations that could drive your marriage into a ditch.  Do you really think you can win this battle on your own?

As we approach the time of year when many people set goals or New Year's resolutions, it would be helpful to develop a list of risks as well.  Do you have any habits, ways of thinking, or temptations that could threaten your most important relationships, your health, your career, your finances, or any other aspect of your life?  Make a list.  Then do yourself and the people you love a huge favor and share the list with someone.  Ask them to be your risk management partner.

When a golfer wins a tournament, it's his or her picture that makes the papers.  But the pros never win alone.  They have a caddy carrying their bag, giving advice, and talking them out of bad ideas.  We all need someone to walk with us in life - someone who will help carry our burdens, give us wise counsel, and talk some sense into us before we drive our life into a fire hydrant.

Of Specks and Logs (Matthew 7:1-5)

I thought I was done with this article until one of those uncomfortable, convicting questions came to mind: "Who's my accountability partner?" While my wife is certainly one, I'd be the first to agree that we need someone in addition to our spouse to hold us accountable, and I have to acknowledge that I don't have anyone who fits the true definition.

I do take part in a weekly large gathering of men at our church where we hear some teaching about issues unique to men and then discuss the topic in smaller groups.  While there is some personal sharing, it only goes so deep.  My wife and I have also been in a weekly couples small group for several years and recently decided to take a season when just the guys meet one week and just the women the next.  My hope is that this will allow for the sort of in-depth conversations that will lead to true accountability.

What about you?  Do you have someone in your life who knows the real you and has permission to speak truth into your life?  If not, why not?  If so, what has been the impact?

Matt Bell is the author of two personal finance books published by NavPress: "Money, Purpose, Joy" (September 2008) and "Money Strategies for Tough Times" (April 2009).  He speaks at churches, conferences, universities, and other venues throughout the country.  To learn more about his work, visit his web site at