Just in time for Father’s Day, I read a great story about Phil Mickelson, the golfer, leaving his practice rounds at the U.S. Open in order to fly back to San Diego for his daughter’s eighth grade graduation. She’s speaking at the ceremony, and he didn’t want to miss it even though being there put him at great risk for missing his opening tee time this morning. After yesterday evening’s ceremony, he flew overnight to the tournament arriving at 4:30am this morning, less than three hours before is 7:11am tee time!
This isn’t the first time Phil has been willing to alter his golf plans for his family. In 1999, he was in contention at the U.S. Open, but was ready to leave at a moment’s notice if the news came that his wife was in labor with their first child (this same daughter!). His beeper never went off during that tournament, and he lost in a playoff to the late Payne Stewart, but Phil experienced an unforgettable moment, nonetheless. Upon winning, Stewart, who would die in a plane crash just a few months later, grabbed Phil, looked him in the eyes, and said, “You’re going to be father. There’s nothing as special as that!” Phil, who has won several majors since (but not the Open), apparently agrees.
It is one thing to say that people matter more than things, more than work. It is another thing altogether to put it into practice. The trouble is, most of us don’t face these monumental kinds of decisions each day. Instead, we encounter a thousand smaller decisions – family or work; a neighbor’s need or my own comfort; a stranger’s problem or keeping my schedule on track. One decision at a time they don’t seem like such a big deal, but put all together they determine what kind of person we actually are. Do we really put people first? Especially those closest to us, like children or spouses or parents for sometimes it's easy to presume upon those we love and assume love us? Or do we only give lip service to the fact that the people in our lives matter more than jobs, schedules, or possessions?
At the end of the day, it’s our actions and not our words or even our feelings that tell the truth about who we are.
So what can you do today to help another human being know, you matter to me?
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” - John 13:35.