It has been quite awhile since I posted to this site. I have not been very consistent lately. That has caused me to ponder the topic of discipline as it relates to our own personal practices. I have been asking myself several questions.
What is going on inside my heart when I miss my appointment with God?
What is happening in my life that keeps me from starting or finishing what I need to do?
Is there an emotion or belief that hinders me?
What about when I react to something? What happened to my self-discipline at that point?
The scriptures teach us to be self-disciplined. That takes effort. Sometimes we don’t feel like it because we are exhausted for whatever reason. However, the consequences of a lack of self-discipline are greater and more exhausting than a little bit of self-discipline being applied.
Here are some definitions for self-discipline:
“Self discipline is the ability you have to control and motivate yourself, stay on track and do what is right.”
“training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.”
Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/self-discipline#2bc2prMht29Z11ow.99
Training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
the act of disciplining or power to discipline one’s own feelings, desires, etc, esp with the intention of improving oneself
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
discipline and training of oneself, usu. for improvement.
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Some very successful people’s thoughts on self-discipline:
“Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear-and doubt. Self-discipline allows a pitcher to feel his individuality, his inner strength, his talent. He is master of, rather than a slave to, his thoughts and emotions.”
“Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts. If you don’t control what you think, you can’t control what you do. Simply, self-discipline enables you to think first and act afterward.”
“Discipline really means our ability to get ourselves to do things when we don’t want.”
Self-discipline is something that we do to ourselves and apply to our thoughts, actions and emotions for the purpose of bettering ourselves and building integrity and maturity into our lives.
We are born into this world without any self-discipline. As we go through life, things happen around us and to us. If we do not have someone there to help us to interpret life and to teach us how to respond to life, we do not learn appropriate self-discipline. We become reactive because we do not have the means by which we can interpret situations correctly and respond to them appropriately. If we are willing for God to interpret for us, we can learn how to respond better and live more freely because God’s interpretation applied to events brings peace.
There is a funny thing about peace. It makes us active instead of reactive. It helps us to see situations in a different light. We can respond with the reasoning part of our brains instead of the part of the brain that is not made for reason. It matures us.
That is why I ask myself the questions I mentioned above. Emotions have an important place in our lives. But if I am living solely out of my emotions, I cannot use the reasoning center of the brain. It is just simply shut down.
So, how do I move past the emotion center to respond from the reason center of the brain?
- Stop and think. If you can’t think, ask God to help you work through the emotion so that you can think.
- Allow space and time to cool down. Your responses will then be more reasoned rather than reactive.
- Watch what you say and how you say it. That will prevent you from pushing other people’s buttons making them reactive toward you.
- Be patient with yourself and others. Patience is a choice as is anger.
- If necessary, be quiet. Too many words can set off land mines you don’t want to set off.
- Ask yourself what response God wants you to have.
- Ask yourself if the discussion is really necessary.
- Pick your battles. If you fight the wrong battles, you will lose the war.
- Always remember, people are not the enemy that you are actually fighting…evil spirits are.
Now, this is self-discipline with regard to issues you have with other people. But, this can also be applied with your personal battle to be self-disciplined in your own hearts and minds as well. You have several parts to your soul and they often do not agree with each other. There are times when the Mind does not agree with your emotions. Sometimes your Will chooses to follow your Mind. Sometimes the Will chooses to follow your Emotions. All three are necessary in order to be a whole and well balanced person. A self-disciplined person is one who can bring all three, (mind, will and emotion) into appropriate alignment or agreement so that you can be balanced and at peace with yourself. It is when you are at peace with all three parts of your soul that you can live more peaceably with others around you.
Now that may sound a bit complicated. It is. We are complex beings. Scripture teaches us that we can be in harmony with our own selves. “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” James 1:8. We need to learn how to be single minded in order to be stable. We all want stability. But, we often do not know how to get there. The only way to become singleminded is through discipline and mind-renewal.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Ephesians 4:23 says, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.”
The “instead” refers to living life according to the patterns of this world as stated in verse 22 of Ephesians 4.
Renewing your thoughts and attitudes is the same as renewing your mind. If your thoughts are not in line with truth, your attitude will reflect that. Renewing your mind is simply to receive truth in the parts of your mind and heart where only God can apply truth. That is where the root beliefs are planted in your experiential memories. God can make truth experiential in those places dispelling all thoughts that do not align with His truth.
This addresses the places where you try and try to change but it just never seems to work.
Here are some spiritual characteristics we need to be instilling in our lives.
- Titus 1:8 English Standard Version (ESV)”b(e) hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”
- 1 Peter 4:7 ESV”The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.”
- Galatians 5:22-23 ESV”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
- 1 Peter 5:8 (NRSA)”Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.”
If people were the enemy, scripture would make a big deal about watching out for your enemy, the person who attacks you. But it does not do that. Instead, scripture warns us about the devil and spiritual forces who are ready to attack if we are not disciplined and vigilant. Our battles are spiritual in nature. Yes, the devil uses people to get to us, but if we are self-disciplined with renewed minds, the devil cannot get to us and people cannot get under our skin either.
So, self-discipline is a vital way to protect and free us. What does that look like?
- Pray– There are many ways to pray and many purposes. We can pray for others. That is intercession. We can pray for our selves and our needs. Jesus told us to ask God, our Father in heaven when we have a need. We can pray for inner healing in issues that control us. That is mind renewal prayer. We can pray for guidance as we seek God’s will and truth.
- Read Scripture– Daily time in the scriptures is a discipline best practiced by offering the best part of our day to focus on it. That is often difficult but, if we choose to discipline our hearts in this practice, we will reap far greater benefits as a result. It is one area where the sacrifice is great gain in the long run.
- Fast– This is for the purpose of focusing on God and His ministry in our lives especially in times of difficulty, grief, pain or when we are facing attack or huge change. During this time, we can commune with God in a deeper more intimate way. We can bring our requests and concerns to him with devotion to Him and humility.
- Worship– spend time focusing on God and all of His attributes. Acknowledge His greatness, power, mercy, love and purity. Humble yourself before Him. Worship may involve singing His praises and it may not. Worship has many forms. It is a heart attitude toward God.
- Service– This discipline is easier for some people than for others. But no matter how difficult it is, if you engage in service for our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, it will not only bless God; it will bless you in ways you cannot begin to imagine.
There are other disciplines you may need to begin to practice but these 5 are very important core disciplines of the Christian faith. make these things core practices of your life in order to grow up in the faith and be mature in your walk with God. It will benefit every aspect of your life.
One of the biggest things that prevents us from being fully devoted self-disciplined followers of Jesus Christ is sin. Sin erodes self-discipline and separates us from connection with God. It brings devastation and ruin to our lives. I have often heard people say they can’t help it or someone made them do it. Both those things are lies that will prevent us from dealing with the issue and getting rid of the sin. We sin because we both want to and choose to sin. We would not be tempted to sin if some part of us did not want to. That is why it is so important to have all parts of our soul in agreement and in line with God and His plan for us.
I pray for God’s plan for your life to be in full sway. Seek His face if you are struggling with something. Don’t let it go on and on. Begin to apply discipline in your life and hunt down everything in your own heart that crops up to hinder you. Lack of self-discipline is a heart attitude that will destroy you. Applied self-discipline will bless your socks off!
May God walk with you and bless you as you seek Him daily!