“Example is not the main thing in influencing others.
It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer
On Wednesday, August 3rd, “just do it” became “just ditch it,” at least as far as golf equipment is concerned. Nike Inc., the world’s largest maker of sporting goods, will stop selling golf equipment, striking another blow to a pastime hurt by slowing participation rates in recent years. Nike will shift away from golf clubs, balls and bags, but will continue selling footwear and apparel for the sport. Sales at the Nike Golf division fell 8.2% to $706 million in the recent fiscal year that ended in May, making it the company’s worst performing major category.
Obviously, there are many contributing factors to this business decision. Some, including professional golfer, Phil Mickelson, have criticized the equipment, describing it as inferior. Golf’s appeal has slumped in recent years, particularly among many millennials. Then, golf ranked as Nike’s smallest category last year, below action sports, women’s training and other segments. Sales of the division have fallen for three straight years.
Perhaps the greatest single moment in popularizing Nike equipment occurred during the 2005 Masters Tournament. On his way to his fourth green jacket, Tiger Woods chipped in for an impossible birdie on the 16th hole after watching his ball journey to the bottom of the cup. The shot revealed the iconic Nike swoosh, appearing to stand still for one breathtaking moment, before disappearing into the hole. Nike built its golf business around the stardom of Tiger Woods, who helped draw interest to the sport from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. And many now connect the demise of Nike with the downfall of Tiger Woods.
In 2009, news leaked out that Tiger Woods’ marriage was unraveling. It was reported he’d committed adultery with more than a dozen women. The next year, he and his wife, Elin Nordegren, divorced. Someone insightfully observed, “First Tiger Woods killed his marriage and then he killed Nike.”
Isn’t it amazing how much influence one person can have for good or for bad? Much of today’s current cynicism and skepticism of politicians finds its roots in the deception and subsequent downfall of President Richard Nixon. Yet, Billy Graham probably influenced more people for the Gospel during the last century than any other one person. John Donne was right, “No man is an island.” Isn’t influence what Jesus was talking about when He referred to His followers as “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”? All of us want our lives to have significance. Our influence on others is a vital part of that. How can you and I be people of influence?
We must realize there is power in prayer. Every believer gives lip service to that, yet we quickly dismiss it as some pious platitude. It isn’t. The sad reality is very few are people of prayer. We trust in programs to make a difference. We trust in money to move us forward. We don’t really believe in the power of prayer. Yet, prayer is an indispensable part of the Christian’s and local church’s life. There’s a direct connection between the waning influence of Christianity and a lack of prayer among God’s people.
We must realize there is power in truth. Do we really believe in the power of the truth of God’s Word? God’s truth is powerful…much more powerful than Satan’s lies. But do we really believe that? When we believe something is true, it alters our behavior. For example, we believe fire can hurt us. Only someone irrational puts their hand on a hot stove. It’s true belief. Most of us say we believe God’s Word has power but when the heat is on, we doubt. We don’t live by faith or really believe God’s Word has power, but it does. When we believe it, when we believe Scripture is powerful and sufficient, it will change our behavior.
We must realize there is power in example. While truth is powerful when it’s debated or argued, it’s more powerful when it’s demonstrated. It’s hard to exaggerate the potency for good a committed Christian and even more so, a committed Christian family can exert for godliness. The community can see the husband and wife loving and honoring one another, devoted and faithful to one another, finding fulfillment in one another. They see the children growing up in the security of a godly, loving home. They see a family not focused in on itself, but turned outward—loving and caring for others, welcoming and entertaining strangers, keeping an open home, seeking to be involved in the concerns of the community. One committed Christian nurse in a hospital; one committed Christian teacher in a school; one committed Christian in a factory—will always make a difference for the Kingdom. Christians are marked people. A lost world is watching. May they see a difference in us, that they “may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).
We must realize there is power in spiritual family. As believers, we have the power of group solidarity, of a dedicated minority. Sociologist Robert Belair, said, “We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a whole culture may be changed when two percent of its people have a new vision.” That was Jesus’ plan. With a small group of just 12 dedicated people, they literally turned their world upside down. Our church can have an enormous influence for godliness, not just here but around the world, if we’ll commit together to wholeheartedly love Jesus.
In 1848, Dr. John Geddie went to Aneityum, an island in Vanuatu and faithfully served the Lord there for the next 24 years. On the tablet erected to his memory these words are inscribed: “When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.” It’s the power of the influence of one. Will you be that one?
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed mine in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.