"So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified."
(1 Corinthians 9:26-27)
In early December, Sports Illustrated had a feature article on Tiger Woods titled "The Sadness." It came on the heels of Tiger's admission to multiple affairs. The article was a well-written journey into not only the sadness of all involved in Tiger's life (his wife, two kids, plus the various other women)... but also for those of us who are fans of his. We tend to demand that our heroes be larger than life. When one has grown as large as Tiger has, the fall can be quite steep.
The apostle Paul understood the challenges, struggles, and temptations that face people in positions of influence. He lived it. He even used the world of athletics to talk about the discipline of self-control needed - as an athlete trains & disciplines his/her body for the purpose of excellence. The consequences of failing to do so - disqualification!
The occupation of pastor is no stranger to this very same controversy. Marital infidelity and sexual deviation unfortunately crop up quite often among us pastors. In fact, quite recently some high-profile clergy (both locally & nationally) have been "disqualified" from ministry because of infidelity. This has devastating consequences not only on those pastors and their families... not only on the churches they've served... but on all those outside the faith who hear their story, then automatically equate God (and the Church) with the hypocritical actions of its servants. Truly, Sports Illustrated had it right with its title: THE SADNESS.
So Paul calls us all to redouble our efforts toward SELF CONTROL. Heck, it's one of the "Fruit of the Spirit" (see Galatians 5:22-24)! It's evidence of God's presence in our life. This doesn't mean it will be easy - as many, many, many, many, many people have (unfortunately) shown us. May the grace and power of God help all of us maintain our self-control... to avoid the sadness. AMEN.