Today I sat in on our eldest son’s guitar lesson. There are many things he has to think about while playing: his posture, hand position, rhythm, playing the notes, and getting his fingers in the correct place quickly enough, reading the music and understanding how it is to be played. Both sides of his brain are engaged. As I watched and listened today, I was struck by the amount of discipline and focus it takes to play well. But his discipline and practice are paying off – He’s getting really good!
Life is full of the need for discipline, and the focus it creates in our lives. Often we “beat ourselves” up over our failure to remain focused and follow through on our New Year resolutions. For without discipline we can easily begin to flounder in our resolve, and consequently our ability to reach goals, lead a healthy lifestyle, grow spiritually and ultimately be happy. But being disciplined is a habit we can practice for a better life, and is what many successful people attribute their success and happiness to.
There are great benefits to leading a disciplined life. Its one of the easiest ways to gain respect in the workplace from our employer and colleagues, and sets a positive example and witness to others, as it creates focus, reliability, patience, and consistency in our characters.
Discipline also helps us be healthy, keeps us fit and active, assists our educational pursuits, and encourages us to be self controlled, resulting in positive relations with others. When we practice being disciplined we get things done faster and in the right time period. We are usually less stressed because we are more organised and know what we are doing, and are able to plan in advance.
God speaks in His word a lot about discipline, and how important it is for us to be focused, consistent, and disciplined in our walk with Him. He knows that it need not be a negative, controlling or limiting aspect of our lives, but a part of our character that will help us become all that He created us to be. By discipline we run our race, and win the prize, as we fix our eyes firmly ahead. A disciplined life helps prevent us from stumbling, and enables us to be consistent in our speech, behaviour and faith. It enables us to remain steadfast in adversity, and patient as we believe and pray.
God encourages us to be, “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined,” and cautions that “a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (Titus 1:8; Proverbs 25:28)
I can think of many times when I have let myself and others down from not being as disciplined as I could have been. But God is so gracious and encourages us in our weaknesses to forgive ourselves, ask for His strength and choose to move forward. When we draw close to God we discover more of who we are in Him. As we look at Him and His word, we will see ourselves as He sees us, as new creations; who are disciplined, gentle, self-controlled and people who run our race well.
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT)
Today, start with small areas of your life that you desire to be more disciplined in; make simple changes first, and write them down so that they are clear to you; ask God for His strength and help, and go for it. It’s in the daily decisions, the choices and the habits we create and establish in our lives that discipline grows. It’s not burdensome, but about living a freer life, no longer governed by our emotions, weaknesses or bad habits.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air, but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1)
“and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)
Prayer: Lord thank you that you have created me in your image and likeness. I have resurrection power residing on the inside of me, and the ability and strength to do all things. Help me to understand more fully who I am in you, and to lead a more disciplined, focused and healthier, joy-filled life. In Jesus name Amen.