Many of you might remember Billie Jean King, a tennis heroine of yesteryear who won Wimbledon six times while also beating Bobby Riggs in 1973’s “Battle Of The Sexes.”
What you may not know is that for all her accomplishments on court, King had a notoriously poor forehand.
She used the “wrong” grip, her elbow got in the way, and the result was more of a “slap” than a “shot.”
So why am I telling you about a long retired pro tennis player with a shaky forehand?
Because early on in her career, after spending a couple of off-seasons obsessing over and making alterations to her forehand, King stopped thinking about it.
Instead of trying to make her forehand better — in other words, working on her weakness — she decided to work from her strengths. She focused her practice time on her serve (good), her volleys (better), and her backhand (gloriously best).
And the rest is Grand Slam history.
The tale of Billie Jean King and her forehand resonates with me on two levels: 1) I, too, had a weak forehand and unfortunately I continued to practice it relentlessly. By focusing so much on what I couldn’t do, I neglected those parts of my game (serve & backhand) that actually had some pro potential. So while they remained strong, I suspect if I had devoted more attention to them, they could have become even better. I could have been working from strength during that time I was working on weakness.
And the same is true of ministry. There are some parts of this calling that I feel like I understand well and in which I actually excel. Then there are other phases of the work that still feel like a pair of wrongly-sized shoes.
And while I’m not going to neglect those still developing areas, I’m not going to obsess over them, either. Instead, as I work from my strengths and develop those to the best of my God-given ability, my prayer is that all other ministry areas will rise as well.
Because I don’t want to do at 58 what I did at 18 — hit forehands all day in a vain attempt to make a bad shot good.
Instead of working on weaknesses I’m going to work from strength. How about you?