Congratulations for not Robbing Banks

In the first round of the 1925 U.S. Open of golf, Bob Jones prepared to hit a wedge shot out of the 11th hole rough. He inadvertently touched his ball with the wedge, causing it to move slightly. He penalized himself one stroke. The officials could not verify that the ball had moved, so they left the one-stroke penalty assessment up to Jones, who was adamant that his ball moved. A one-stroke penalty that no one, but Jones, had witnessed. After regulation play Jones was tied with Willie Macfarlane, and he lost the 18-hole playoff to him. When folks congratulated Jones on his honesty he replied, “You might as well congratulate me for not robbing a bank.”

In today’s climate, I think of Jones often because I read or hear of so many people wanting to glorify a person for doing his or her job, to perform the job as is in the job description. No person should be given extra applause for doing what is required or needed. That is why he or she is there in the position—to perform by overcoming obstacles and difficulties encountered in doing the prescribed work,

As a wrestling coach, I reminded my charges that iron sharpens iron, a paraphrase of Proverbs 27:17. Those three words were printed on the back of our team tee-shirts. The wrestlers understood that the best way to help a teammate become a better person and wrestler was to be a hard surface on which to sharpen. In so doing, both became better.

All cultures need heroes, folks to admire for their integrity and courage and grit. However, let’s not set the bar too low. After all, if we do we might as well congratulate someone for not robbing a bank.

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