Golf Terminology 101: “let out the shaft” = to make an effort to hit the ball long
The point is to hit it farther by swinging harder, and in so doing to make a golf hole play easier.
However, I have from time to time taken this phrase to be a ministry term : “I may have to let the shaft out on this person.”
What I mean by that is that for me, an extravert but a non-confrontational people pleasing one, I have the desire on occasion to rectify someone’s reality with righteous fortitude.
In other words, I want to whack them for not seeing things as they are. Or as I see them. Whether righteously or unrighteously (you never seem to find out until afterward, do you?) this is an emotion I'm familiar with. In any case, the emotion is strong.
The problem with letting the shaft out – in golf as in ministry – is that you are fighting against the very nature of the relationship.
Pro golfers will tell you their longest drives come with about 80% effort. Why? Because the equipment in today's golf club is made to do the work for you – all the high-grade scientific materials are meant to bounce the ball millions of miles into space and keep you from hitting it all over creation. Sometimes it works, but it definitely has a better chance of success when you’re under control.
Not trying to kill it.
Just strike it well and trust the equipment.
In ministry, my tendency to want to let the shaft out is just further proof of my need to learn how to abide by the spirit that “dwells within me” (Jn. 14:16-17). My attitude is coming from a place of trying to force holiness and “renewal of the mind” and not letting the one force in the universe – the Spirit of God – do the work.
Sometimes when we are maturing in our own formation, we want to drag or manipulate others (especially when we’re in leadership) into the place where we sense God is leading them. It’s not a totally unholy enterprise, if it’s driven by a desire to see others come to know God in a new way. The problem is that we often use the equation below:
Immaturity + Desire on behalf of others = Going Against the Grain of God
We have to remember that – whether in us or others – it is God’s Spirit that does the work of transformation so we don’t have to worry about exercising force. We are able to simply be the materials God uses, in peace and contentment, to help others move into the place where God desires them to be.
And by not “letting out the shaft,” we learn what power there is in humility and what hope there is for our maturity in Christ.