Monday, October 21, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “The Lost Virtue of Discipline”
October 21, 2013
[Pastorgraphs now online at ChristSD.com]
Pastorgraphs: “The Lost Virtue of Discipline”
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11 NIV)
None of us enjoys denying ourselves anything. (Well, maybe asparagus, but that’s the only one I will allow.) I recall as a child Mother would say, “No dessert until you eat your meal (including the vegetables).” A child, left to his or her own resources will skip the meal and go right for the dessert. We even had to take a bath at least once a week whether we needed it or not! In the real world, many adults are still childish and undisciplined.
Discipline is the “golden mean” between the vices of laziness and obsession. The dictionary defines discipline as “training to act in accordance with rules”. It is the same root word from which disciple comes. Whether in military boot camp, on the football field, or in the Kingdom of God, discipline is not fun. Christian discipline requires: (1) deny ourselves, (2) take up our crosses DAILY, and (3) follow Jesus.
Discipline is the virtue of control over your mind, body, passions and actions. For example, a person with discipline knows what to say (or not say), when to say it, and what words to use (prudent and positive words instead of vile and angry words). Likewise, an athlete disciplines the body to win the game, and the soldier disciplines for battle.
I offer seven keys to living a disciplined life.
1. Humility: First, you must be open to receive and learn from discipline. It is an arrogant and prideful “fool” who thinks the rules of discipline do not apply to him or her. Humility means you are willing to learn, and suffer the punishment or consequences for your mistakes. “The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:12)
2. Consistency: You do not run hot and cold. You give your best to every task, every day. Recall the fable of the tortoise and the hare. By all means, the rabbit should win a race against a turtle. But through consistent effort, the turtle defied the odds and won the race. “Take up your cross DAILY”, not just when you feel like it. Feelings may be the greatest enemy of discipline!
3. Patience. Patience is determination under difficult circumstances, which means persevering in the face of obstacles without giving up. Patience is the amount of adversity you can endure. It is the character trait of being steadfast.
4. Will-power: Self-discipline is the result of sustained will-power. This requires delaying gratification. Will-power is the strength and ability to carry out a specific task without being distracted by “shiny objects”.
5. Self-discipline: All discipline is “self” discipline. Self-discipline means you focus on the task before you, the goal you strive to achieve, and ignore other distractions and temptations. You purposely align your energy with your values and ideals. It means being willing to push yourself to the limits of your determination and perseverance. Self-discipline involves quiet commitment or determination that directs your choices. Self-discipline enables you to be all that you can be in the pursuit of your dreams.
6. Self-denial: Discipline asserts will-power over sensual desires. Self-denial asks that you endure temptations and distractions in the pursuit of a higher goal. Self-denial means you use reason to determine the best course of action that opposes your desires. Virtuous, disciplined behavior is when motivations align with your reasoned ideals and goals: to do what is best, and to do it with excellence. DENY self for the greater good.
7. Self-control: Self-control is the ability to control your emotions, behavior, and desires in order to achieve some reward, or avoid some punishment. Self-control connects with useful life ideals, such as happiness. Self-discipline can be defined as the ability to motivate yourself in spite of negative feelings. In Christianity, self-control is among the “Fruits of the Spirit”; the most useful virtues of life. (“Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control. Against such things there is no law”. Galatians 5:21-23.)
The passage in Hebrews reveals a great truth. There is a great reward, “a harvest of righteousness and peace” that comes from a disciplined life. Disciplined living pays long term dividends.
Devotedly yours, Bill Jenkins, Pastor
From the Quote Garden:
“No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined.”
~ Harry Emerson Fosdick ~
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205