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School Circle 6: Discipline

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This week, Justin and Vince talk about discipline.

For some people, it just comes natural to be disciplined in certain areas of their lives. For example, some people are born as readers and morning people. So, to get up early each morning and read their Bible is actually easy for them to accomplish. Those who are not so inclined might look at them and marvel at their discipline.

For guys like Justin, he can be super disciplined when it comes to garage work and it is no surprise to see him work with dogged determination until the wee hours of the morning. But, just don’t ask him to mail a check. That’s just too much of a task.

So, Justin asks this question:

Can we count the disciplines that come easy to us as wins and can we still grow from them, even though they reside within our comfort zones?

Vince has a mixed answer: Yes, you can count them as wins, but growth happens when you become disciplined in areas that you are not already disciplined in. this is why it is both good and practical to fellowship with other people – especially those who are ahead of you in the “discipline game”. As Proverb 27:17 tells us:

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

We can emulate our friend’s disciplines and be encouraged to grow. Whereas without that fellowship, we are left to ourselves and will most likely fail.

Both Justin and Vince have stories about being on deployment, in the heat of battle, where either their discipline helped save lives, or their lack of discipline jeopardized lives. There are moments, whether in battle or every day life, when our practice disciplines turn into live-giving or live-changing actions.USMC Infantryman

Now, God will not force us to practice certain disciplines. He may prod us and encourage us, but He will not force us. But, it is critical for us to remain discipline and learn new disciplines as we mature in order to help draw other people to God and to glorify God.

One thing to remember – especially when we fail – is that our lack of discipline does not equal our loss of salvation. Our experience in eternity may end up being “less glamorous” than if we remain disciplined, but our salvation is guaranteed through our faith and by God’s grace.

And, discipline on all levels are part of God’s plan for our lives. For example, Hebrews 12:11 tells us:

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Discipline is important to better us. And we are better people when we understand this, as we read in Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but he who hates reproof is stupid.

So, how can we kickstart ourselves into leading disciplined lives?

  1. Start small. Get rid of the clutter on your desk, or throw out the shoes you own that don’t have a matching partner. If you try to make too many gigantic changes in your life all at once, you are setting yourself up for failure. Many experts say that the first easy step is to make your bed when you get up in the morning. This starts your day with a new discipline from the very first second you rise.
  2. Get yourself organized. Understanding your own schedule leads to respecting other people’s time and to-do lists help put your objectives in perspective.
  3. Don’t constantly seek to be entertained. Don’t be a constant consumer. You need to produce something. Our hands need to work, our mouths need to speak. And, believe it or not, silence can truly be golden!
  4. Be on time. This goes hand-in-hand with getting organized. What’s interesting with this one is that people who have no problem getting somewhere on time are the ones most offended by people who arrive late. And vice-versa… those who are chronically late are most graceful when someone else isn’t on time. But, according to Justin (and Ephesians 5:15-16), being disciplined in your usage of time is a sign of spiritual wisdom.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

  1. Keep your word. Many of us are “people pleasers” and can’t stand saying no to someone. But this often leads to over commitment, forgotten promises and other things that result in an eroded integrity.
  2. Tackle the most difficult tasks first. Now, you may think that this runs counter intuitively to our first step of starting small, but if we spend all our time doing the easy things and we don’t handle the difficult yet necessary things, we will go nowhere in life.
  3. If you start something, finish it. Complete your own unfinished projects. And, if you discover that you’re in over your head, get help.
  4. Accept correction. This is so much easier said than done. It takes a thick skin to allow yourself to be made better. Yet, when you receive advice from trusted people, you need to remember that you trust them because they have your best in mind.
  5. Practice self-discipline. We must have control over our bodies. Ask yourself if your will or your passion (your mind or your heart) runs your show. And if you don’t give in to your temptations, you also learn yet another escape route for when the temptations arise again. One win can be so incredibly rewarding!
  6. Welcome responsibilities. Don’t be one of those guys who want the most reward by only performing the least amount of work. Evaluate your new opportunities and challenges as a time to make the most out of all of the nine previous steps. Your rewards will be unending!

And finally, Vince closes this week with inspiration from Isaiah 32:17,

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

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