When I even mention the word “discipline,” every group I speak to outwardly groans. You should see the people squirm and watch their eyes roll. I get more reaction to this word than when I occasionally cuss. What’s up with that?
I think it’s because people equate discipline with failure. They put discipline in one of two boxes. It is either akin to the “punishment” they received as a child and have vowed to never repeat, or they liken it to New Year’s resolutions. And they are so sick of letting themselves down they forego both – resolutions and discipline.
Let’s do a little test. Do you regularly:
Brush your teeth
Eat a meal
Eat dessert or chocolate or candy
Go to see friends
Sing (in the shower, car or to radio – they all count)
Wash your sinks, socks, or car
If you answered ‘yes’ then the next question is, why do you do that? I’m guessing you see some benefit, goal or payoff that matters to you. Bad breath is a very good reason to brush your teeth. Good tooth health and a pearly smile are good reasons too. So teeth brushing is a “both/and” kind of action. You do it to get both the good and to prevent the bad. I ask this in such a simple way because you already know discipline. In fact you already DO discipline. You just need to broaden your perspective a bit especially as it comes to the spiritual life.
It is very important that you have a Biblical view of God’s discipline. God no longer punishes us for breaking the law. Christ did that for us on the cross. So when God disciplines, it is always and only for our good. Discipline, in its truest form, is the actions and training that enable the very best to be revealed.
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” Matthew 7:13-14 The Message