As 2017 continues to roll along, I thought I would take some time to meditate on self-discipline. Truthfully, it was a conversation with a dear friend of mine that got me going on this path. My friend offered me books by a well-known author on personal development, and I asked him if he read the books. He stated he hadn’t and that it was because he had a long list of books he wanted to get through and didn’t want to add to it.
“What’s your plan to get through the books on your list?” I asked him.
“I just plug away at them when I can.”
Sadly, I cannot say that this is solely something that is attributed to this one person, this one situation, this one moment in time. Over and over again many people fail to do things because they don’t discipline themselves to attain whatever it is they want to achieve. A lot of people say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.” The thing about that is that a life lived for tomorrow is always a day away.
One verse I’ve enjoyed thinking on in regards to discipline is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV), which states:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Paul ends the passage by stating that he makes his body his slave. He takes control of his thoughts and his actions, and he disciplines himself so he can continue to be an example, and teach people of Christ.
As Christians, we are challenged to discipline ourselves so we can be an example for the rest of the world, so that the world can see what self-discipline looks like. The tried and failed method of “do as I say, not as I do” can no longer be a motto for our lives.
What does it take to be disciplined? While everyone varies, and no one answer is going to work best for everyone, the first step to take is to schedule time for whatever it is you’re pursuing. Schedule a day to have a date night with your spouse, schedule three days a week to be physically active, schedule your week so that you have time to read the Bible and grow your relationship with Christ. We need to make it a purposed effort to discipline ourselves if we want to achieve our goals.
When it comes to self-discipline I can tell you it won’t be the most fun. You’ll have to surrender some things that you’ve held on to for a long time. I’ve heard it said many times from mentors of mine that you have to give up to grow up. I like that saying. And it’s absolutely true from my own experiences. You have to give up the things in your life that you think are good to attain the things which are great. You have to trade in the old, negative habits to gain good, positive habits. And it starts with disciplining yourself to pursue your goals.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) states, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” My challenge to everyone would be to find ways to improve your discipline in whatever area you are pursuing. Spend more time with your spouse, read books on personal development and growth, be more active physically. And most importantly, and this applies to all of us, pray more. Pursue a relationship with God and be transformed by His glory to be an example for the world that it sorely needs. The promise in the above passage is worth the pain that will come from stretching out of your comfort zone.