I have been realizing recently that every area of my life requires discipline: physical health (exercise, eating right, etc.) spiritual health (Bible reading, prayer, etc.) as well as maintaining healthy relationships and raising children.
First of all, we have the definition of discipline– To train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way; or a more simplified definition- Doing what you do not want to do, in order to accomplish something. For example, I may diet and exercise to achieve a desired goal (become healthier, loose weight etc.), but am I applying these principles to other areas of my life as well? Bodily exercise is not necessarily something enjoyable, but after I have formed the habit of doing it everyday, I will enjoy it and find that skipping a day makes me feel weak and tired (or so I have been told 🙂 I have found it hard to get past those first few horrible weeks!) Do I put as much effort into my marriage, family, and relationship with God? These may also require doing a few things that may not be enjoyable at first, to accomplish something greater.
To make this more personal and understandable, I am going to be totally transparent and give you an example of my typical day. I wake up when the kids wake up, so this varies from day to day. Usually they are begging for breakfast right away. So we take care of this first, then I proceed to get them ready. Then it’s the house stuff: cleaning, dishes, laundry, cooking etc. If there is a little free time then maybe I will shower and get dressed. At the end of the day, at about 9:30 pm when the last child has gone to bed, I will try to squeeze in a few moments of quiet time with God and then spend some time with my husband. Does anyone else see the problem here? I have spent the entire day in survival mode. The kids may be satisfied (they are still easy to please at this age 🙂 But I am disappointed in myself, my husband is disappointed in an unkempt, disheveled, spiritually withering wife that greets him with complaints and problems as soon as he enters the door (don’t worry- my words, not his!). But most importantly, I have disappointed my Savior, to whom I have only given a few minutes at the end of the day, hoping it will sustain me spiritually. All of this is due to a lack of DISCIPLINE!!! God doesn’t want us to just survive our days, He wants us to thrive, to grow, to enjoy our families, and to enjoy HIM.
Here are a few things that can hopefully help us live a more disciplined life.
Habits. What is a habit? An automatic reaction to a specific situation. An automatic reaction doesn’t just happen, its something I have to work at. Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”I think diligence and initiative are key to maintaining discipline in our lives. I can want to change and want to be more disciplined, but without action, I have nothing. There is a disciplined, Christ-honoring life waiting for me if I am only willing to work for it. I really enjoyed the post written by Amber a few weeks ago about riding along on our husband’s faith. It really takes discipline and initiative not to do this. I have to take initiative in digging into God’s word on my own. What does it mean for me? How can I apply it to my life?
Work. “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” (Proverbs 18:9) I am afraid this is something I am often guilty of: wasting my time or better yet God’s time. It is His and I need to use it in the best most resourceful way possible to bring Him maximum glory. How can I better organize my day and effectively use my time for Him. Ever heard of the expression “first things first” ? Well, I think this phrase can help a lot with self-discipline. How do I start my day? It should be with the most important things. I would say that one of the things should be my personal time with the Lord. It may require disciplining myself to wake up a little bit earlier (ouch, a tough one for me!)
Consistency. The thing I am striving for will not become a habit unless I am consistent. Of course there will be times when I fail, forget, run out of time, etc. The key is not letting my failures become my habits. “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief” (Prov. 24:16). Don’t fall and stay there! Get up and keep on going, keep reading your Bible, keep on being a witness, keep raising your children to honor God, keep working on your marriage. Because a disciplined life is one that will allow us to honor and enjoy God in the best way possible.
Purpose. Lastly, keeping in mind my purpose will help me to form right habits, work hard and be consistent. Why is discipline so important as a follower of Christ? I need to daily keep in mind that ultimate goal, which is to be like Christ and be with Him one day. On that glorious day when I finally see Him, I don’t want to look back on my life and see that I have wasted it because of a lack of discipline. In fact, I wish that I had realized all of this much sooner. I hate to think of all the time that I have already wasted. But now it is time to stop dwelling on the past and get busy living a disciplined life!