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By John D. Pierce

divotJordan Spieth’s final-round meltdown at the Masters yesterday is the top sports story today. In tragedies of all kinds, there is more emphasis on the one who lost than on the victor.

It was a most unlikely happening for the 22-year-old seeking a rare consecutive win at Augusta. But he came apart on the back nine.

This talented young Texan could play the back side of that majestic course a thousand times — in sleet, snow, rain and perhaps the dark — and not have such a dismal experience.

He actually hit an iron shot that looked like something the rest of us would do. That’s what is really amazing.

We can’t do what he does. Yet he showed us that even the best can have bad moments.

What happened to the muscle memory that golf instructors and commentators tell us produces repetitious excellence? Was it increased nerves or loss of concentration? Ultimately, no one  knows.

Quite understandably, Spieth said it would take him awhile to get over this experience of letting the championship trophy slip through his hands. He simply didn’t do what he could have done by all accounts.

That’s his appropriate, personal perspective.

But what are the lessons for those of us who could never achieve the results that he and the sporting world consider as failure?

Perhaps it is a recognition that we too can get off course even without such high expectations and millions of watching eyes. Or maybe that past successes don’t ensure future ones.

Or that one bad move is often compounded. Or that excellence at anything can be hard to maintain.

My hope is that he and we, regardless of our situations, always recall that our value as persons is not tied to our performances but to the assurance that we have been created by a loving God whose gracious Spirit is present through all the ups and downs of life.

John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce is editor of Nurturing Faith Journal — the signature publication of Baptists Today, Inc. He is also publisher of Nurturing Faith Books and Resources. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates.