(Kate in London, 2019)
What is it that you know you need to do but at the same time you don’t want to do? But you know it is beneficial for you if you do that thing? I have a certain time blocked out on my weekly calendar for writing content. On this particular day, I cooked a delicious meal (if I may say so myself) and I wanted to write before eating because I knew I would be most efficient that way BUT at the same time I kept smelling the savory aroma of the meal and wanted to eat first. Can you guess what happened next?
“Oh I just ate too much of that rice and stew!” Now Kate dear, how are you going to accomplish your writing goal on that extremely full stomach? Oh and connecting your lack of self-control, self-discipline to your long-term goals, how about your health goals? Thoughts I had as I laid on the couch wondering how I would complete the short term goal (writing the blog content) and striding in my long term goals. By my human nature, I wanted to take a nap which meant pushing back or postponing a completion date. The ripple effects… all because of one choice of doing what I wanted to do but I knew I shouldn’t do, and by doing so, I did not get the results I wanted.
Discipline. There are probably two distinct ways to view this practice. Yes, discipline can be viewed as a practice rather than a painful process to endure. But before this view of discipline, you must understand and decide how to develop and embrace discipline.
There is discipline that comes from authority, for example a parent, a teacher, a professor, the government, law enforcement, God? And then there is discipline that stems from within the self. One is within your purview, and the other is absolutely out of your control and comes as a result of needing correction, guidance, and sometimes a rude awakening.
Hebrews 12:10-11 looks at discipline from the context of both human and godly correction. When discipline comes from authority, which is the one out of your control, it is difficult to view as good practice. Being reprimanded for the consequences of your bad decisions is not pleasant but should be viewed as good practice because eventually, you learn to make good choices. I wish today’s blog was about this good practice of embracing correction - the hindsight of knowing you were saved from your self-destruction. But it is not!
I simply want to look at the other part of discipline - being trained or training yourself to do something in a controlled and habitual way to yield you the results you want. I am sure you have heard this popular saying “you can force a horse to the river but certainly, you cannot force it to drink”. Have you ever tried giving a baby pureed broccoli? It is good for them, they taste it the first time and then their lips are sealed shut. No more! Sometimes they just look at the food and it is an absolute no! But you know it is good for them. So how else do you get them to eat it? Studies show that to get a child to eventually try a new taste, you must place that thing in front of them at least 7 times. I think I gave up on my son eating certain vegetables after the fifth try (don’t judge lol). It is hard. He had to want to try it and then only he could actually taste it. I could force but I would only be stressing myself out.
Training yourself to do something in a controlled and habitual way to get the results or benefits you want requires one active ingredient - YOU - one active ingredient made up of many particles such as your mindset shift, your outlook on the perceived benefits, your willingness to be uncomfortable for a period of time, your readiness to sit in that discomfort, pain, your determination, zeal, drive to stay committed to the path or process despite the feelings to quit or give up.
YOU. Discipline that comes from God is also in two parts - the parental correction type and the parental train-up a child type. Knowing that you do not have the spirit of timidity but of love, power and sound mind, you are capable of sitting in the unpleasantness of such discipline knowing you are gaining more by doing so.
Lets face it, when the steps needed to create the change desired comes from within, it is more likely to be embraced and sustained than if the steps are imposed from outside. Therefore,
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of binge watching Netflix.
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of overindulgence and overeating.
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of pleasurable sleep-ins.
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of having many unfinished projects.
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of mindless scrolling.
The desire for change makes you choose ______ instead of _______ (fill in the blank)
While you must continuously leave room for grace and mercy to operate, if doing what you want to do to get the results you want requires your participation, then how do you develop such discipline?
You need to shift your perspective from your natural state of being to your supernatural state of being. This means stop saying “I am only human” and start saying “I can do this through Christ who is my strength”. Sometimes, you need something beyond your understanding to overcome cravings, impulses, desires…
You need to partner with God and with like-minded people. You need a love that is never changing and is full of grace. When you partner with God, you are acknowledging that first step, your shift in perspective. When you partner with like-minded people, you have accountability, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, and community.
You need to position yourself for the greatness in you. This includes prioritizing, preparing, planning, scheduling, having healthy boundaries, and above all, praying at all times.
You need to persevere and push through. Training yourself to run your race and finish well means overcoming obstacles. Such obstacles include the temptation to throw in the towel, temptation to believe that you only live one so you YOLO, temptation to compromise, temptation to pause prematurely. To persevere, you must remain focused on that goal.
You need to pace yourself under the weight and pressure. Believe that this discipline you are developing while unpleasant is temporary. The harvest it produces later will be plentiful; the feeling of accomplishment even before the praises from others. So know your journey, believe in the purpose you have been called and pace yourself through it.
Truly, no discipline is pleasant at the time whether it is one imposed by others or one you develop from within. It requires YOUR presence and active participation. Your intentionality, consistency, and focus will enable you to stay disciplined. And if you fall off sometimes like I did eating all that food and struggling through this blog (yes this blog post about discipline…don’t judge!), if you fall off, hey dust it off and get back on your pace.
Mind the gap between what you want and what you need to do to get there. Do what most people won't do now so you get the results most people won't get later.
Yours in FREEdom,