It’s Good To Be Humbled

Brent, our church’s first pastor and the man who trained me, was back in town to visit and speak in our church.

Knowing he loved the sport, a number of golfers in the church decided to take him to a local course following the Sunday meeting. Though I’m not a golfer they invited me along for the fun and fellowship.

It was a drizzly day, but we were committed. Because all the other guys were golfers, they were prepared for the weather and had rain gear, hats, etc. I came completely unprepared. So in the clubhouse I secured a large trash bag, which I made into a makeshift parka by slitting holes for my head and arms.

Neither did I have golf shoes like everyone else. I wore tennis shoes which provided no traction whatsoever, especially on wet grass.

So Mr. Doofus in his trash bag and slippery shoes strode out of the clubhouse to take on the fairway.

I was miserable all afternoon. Dripping wet, and slipping constantly in my tennis shoes, I occasionally needed help getting up the slopes on the course. When I’d get ready to drive the ball, the wind would come up beneath me and inflate the trash bag, impeding my swing. Many times I’d barely nick the top of the ball, driving it a good, oh, four inches. Other times I’d miss completely. And when I did manage to connect, I ejected balls into woods, water and other dimensions never to return again.

By the time we got to the last hole, I was thoroughly disgusted. I’m pretty sure my mocking buddies weren’t even keeping my score. And I was wet to the bone despite my billowing trash bag. Sidling up to my ball on the tee, I looked toward the hole. It lay off in the distance beyond a pond. I decided I was going to smash the ball as hard as I could. Cream it. Crush it. I imagined everyone’s jaws dropping as my ball vanished into the heavenlies, only to reappear on the green, 2 inches from the hole.

I whipped the club back over my shoulders as far I could. Vertebrae cracking, neck craning at an inhuman angle, I could see the whole club dangling before me. With all my might I brought the club around, breaking the sound barrier.

Unfortunately, the head of the club plowed into the grass a full foot in front of the ball. The forward motion of the club stopped, but the powerful torque I’d generated, in combination with the slick bottoms of my tennis shoes on the wet grass, launched my feet arcing skyward. I hung suspended in the air. I saw scenes from my childhood. I left my body, coolly taking in the whole scene from above. Then suddenly I slammed onto my back, splattering the soaked earth, hands and feet flailing.

My friends convulsed and squealed with laughter like stuck pigs. “I can’t believe you did that!” one screamed, gasping for air. “I wish I had a video camera,” another shrieked, tears streaming from his eyes. “I’d have $10,000 on Funniest Videos.” It was a full five minutes before anyone could compose himself enough to play. And they told and retold the tale with raucous guffaws every time another foursome returned to the clubhouse.

I forgave them, of course, because it was funny and I know how to laugh at myself. But someday they’ll be sorry when they find horse heads in their golf bags.

photo by leonrw

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I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I’ve written a lot of worship songs. I also like to paint.


  1. Alan Helfer says

    Hi Mark. I always read your messages, usually in the morning. It is always good to start a day with a thought provoking message. It is also good to start it with a belly laugh. You had my eyes watering today! Thanks for allowing us to find some semblance of enjoyment at your expense.

    God Bless.


  2. Teresa Baker says

    Mark, while this is funny and I was literally laughing out loud at the images you portrayed, the bottom line is I appreciate your ability to laugh at yourself. Thank you for your humility.

  3. Craig Cortelyou says

    Great ending to a great story! You reminded me of my first time (auditing/not playing) on a course-in sneekers. It was barely light (@6:30) and I was lost looking for my post on #7 to watch the hole-in-one event.
    I was standing on a bunker, when the event leader (and president of Greensburg CC) drove up to answer my obvious question. I took a step and my shoes sent me in a similar position to yours! I was on my back, wet and completely covered in grass clippings. The leader looked at me without expression and said “you should were spikes on the course, son.”


  4. says

    That’s hilarious! Well C.J. Mahaney does say that going golfing is a good way to build humility as well as learning to laugh at yourself. You accomplished both in one day! Impressive. :)

  5. says

    My hubby’s gonna love reading this one. :) Learning to laugh at ourselves here in the Almengor home is a priority of Lawrence’s as we grow ourselves and raise our children as well. IT seems to be one of God’s priorities as well as He provides plenty of material on a regular basis.

  6. says

    Very nice! I’m not much of a golfer either, I keep telling myself that I’m going to learn….after this story, I’m going to up my life and health insurance a bit!!! :)
    Great story, I needed a laugh today! …sorry that it was at your expense!!
    Ron Reffett

  7. says

    Hi Patricia,

    Ahhh, too bad you weren’t drinking coffee – I love it when I shoot burning liquid out my nose. Thanks for commenting!

    Hey Alan,

    If you got some enjoyment from my foibles, then it was well worth it. Great hearing from you!

    Thanks Mark!

    Hey Eric,

    If you pay me serious money, I’ll give you a personal replay.

    Thanks Teresa,

    I have to laugh at myself, because if I start to take myself too seriously, something else will happen….


    Sorry to hear it.

    Hey Craig,

    I appreciate your leader’s compassion…pretty funny. Glad you can relate.

    Hey Olivia,

    Yeah, too bad I couldn’t have learned all the humility I needed in one day…unfortunately I need more, but there must be some easier ways to get it…

    Hi Briana,

    Lawrence has a great priority – learning to laugh at ourselves should be a priority for everyone. There’s usually lots of material in our house too. But why do I have to provide so much of it?

    Hey Ron,

    If you do take up golf, let me know and I’ll show you how to make a great rainproof hat out of a plastic shopping bag.

  8. says

    I can imagine the mockery. :) Thanks for sharing, I had tears in my eyes. You can’t be worse than my dad! CJ has said he’s the worst golfer he has ever seen. The few times he has opportunitiy to play, he now goes to mock his friends and drive the golf cart. He’s given up trying to play. :)

  9. Luke M says

    I don’t remember a lot of my embarrassing moments. I think I’ve been too proud to laugh at myself and retell the stories often. That stinks… all those great awkward moments lost.

  10. Kate D. says

    That is so funny!!!!!!!! :) It’s so cool that even a game of golf can reinforce Biblical truths–aka humility!

  11. says

    Hi Kate,

    Yes, it’s amazing how God can use almost anything to humble us. I’m thinking that if I humbled myself more often God might not have to do it for me…

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