When You Feel Like Giving Up

I invested a lot of time and money in my golf game over the winter months. Not satisfied with how last year went, I hired a new teacher late in 2023. Two things made it a sacrifice: He is one of the top teachers in the area and commands a lot of money for that expertise, and he is about a one-hour drive from my house. Both forced me to really commit to the process. 

In February, I traveled to Florida and played in a one-day event — the second time in 2024 I was hitting off real grass. And I’m not going to lie — it was absolutely brutal. I carded the highest score I’ve had in years. Even my handicap app was worried, popping up with the notification, “This is outside the norm of what you typically log. Are you sure you want to proceed?”  

The following day, at 3 a.m., I concluded that I should just “retire” from semi-competitive golf. Forget those few club tournaments I play in; I thought I should just play golf for “fun.” 

Later that morning, I started praying about it because that’s what I do in these situations. I believe that God cares more about the person I am becoming than what I do. So I sought him — and what follows are the lessons I learned.

The Price of Not Playing

First, I came to understand that I’ll one day retire from golf. That is inevitable, period. Bottom line. But doing so today is not free. While competition always exposes what’s going on inside — emotions such as anxiety, stress, and even shame — not playing may bring about something even darker. What might that be? 


Let me say that again. While I don’t need to play golf as part of who I am, if I don’t play it competitively at this point of my life — as a way to help reduce my stress and anxiety — I see this as a cop-out for me. 

And I would regret it later. 

How do I know this? 

I know this because, if I’m really honest, I didn’t play golf in college because I was scared. 

I was afraid to fail publicly. 

I was afraid that I’d never make the Purdue golf team. 

I was afraid that I’d never be the kind of golfer my goals demanded.

I’ve battled this regret for twenty years. And while it might not be the kind of regret that makes me seek professional help, it still lurks in the background.  

As the years have passed, I have come to understand that the battle is where the growth comes. And playing golf — both the actual playing of the game and how it makes me feel — helps me grow. 

Staying in the Battle

So, I am remaining in the battle. 

I’m prepared to struggle, fight, and fail. 

I’m prepared to dance with my inner demons if and when the yips enter my chipping game. 

I’m prepared to wrestle the inner voice that shames me when I three-putt a green. 

I’m prepared to speak truth to the shame that can overcome me when I compare myself to my dad’s incredible golf game. He has never pressured me, so why do I allow that shame a moment in my heart? 

You may not play golf, but there is a battle you are facing. 

Friend, I’m bearing my soul here so you know you are not alone. 

Almost every leader I know has fears and anxiety and has to wrestle with the demon of shame. And let’s be clear that it is a demon! 

I encourage you to find your identity in the truth. My North Star is now, and forever, Jesus, and there is no shame with him. 

So, I am going to soldier on. 

I am going to show up. 

And when I fail — when I am tempted to give up and cannot sleep — I will remember that this is where the growth happens. 

And one day, I will succeed because of this growth. 

Until I do…

And until you do…

Let’s keep going.