Discipline is a word that often carries negative images. No one really enjoys discipline, but it is necessary for achieving the self-control that I wrote about last time. At the root of the word “discipline” is the model of raising a child. It involves instruction, training, correction, nurturing, and chastening. A responsible parent cares enough for their children to encompass all of these elements in preparing them to face whatever life brings their way.
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)
As I watched the NHL game opener Wednesday evening I thought about the essential discipline that took place leading up to that day following the summer break. Training is hard, often discouraging, painful, and it requires a coaching staff that is dedicated to putting the players through what is necessary for the desired objective.
Self-control is acquired through discipline. A child who receives inadequate discipline lacks control over his anger or frustration. She learns how to make wise choices through the consistent guidance of her parents. There must, however, be a willingness of heart and mind to follow and obey. For many people, discipline is rejected.
A wise man once said, “He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.” Proverbs 15:32 (NIV)
Author Ann Voskamp writes, “Daily discipline is the door to full freedom.”[i]
Being self-disciplined is a further extension of receiving discipline from others. To me, it means that I am learning and growing through the influence of others to the point where I am increasingly able to be in control of myself. It allows me to make room for the freedom I desire. I am more prepared for the unexpected or a new challenge. I am better able to discern between what is really important and that which can be delayed. What presents itself as the most pressing thing in the moment may not be the most needed.
Spiritual self-discipline raises the bar even higher. As a Christian, my relationship with the Lord and its effect on my daily life is my greatest goal. Without it I lack purpose and significance.
- I learn to love others based on how deeply I love God.
- My concern for the needs of others flows from experiencing God’s continual provision first-hand.
- The degree to which I am humble before God determines how well I am able to exercise meekness towards others.
- Finding contentment and rest in God’s will for me enables me to help others discover peace in their circumstances.
There are many spiritual disciplines such as meditation, confession, worship and praise, rest, study, fasting, and prayer. For a more in-depth exploration I recommend Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline. I wrote briefly last week about rest and in the next few posts I will share my thoughts about others.
For now, I simply want to reflect on the wonderful experience I enjoyed at our church’s ladies retreat last weekend. My primary focus in going was to work on building meaningful relationships and to find times of rest, two things I mentioned in last week’s post. I was able to do both by intentionally sitting at a different table each mealtime, initiating conversations that turned into treasured times of sharing, taking a leisurely walk on the beach, and spending quiet moments in prayer with my precious sisters. Those who know me well understand much of this was outside my comfort zone, but what joy I found in exercising these valuable disciplines!
More about prayer later!
Until next time,