Early in my Christian life, I sensed a serious deficiency. My need was self-discipline. I was inconsistent with my exercise. I was easily distracted, habitually tardy, and found myself stressed over being behind on what needed to get done.
One day, walking through an airport, I passed a book rack containing a paperback that caught my eye: The Disciplined Life by Richard S. Taylor. I continued 20 steps farther until I did a U-turn, sensing the “finger of God” leading me back to the book rack.
On the plane, I looked at the table of contents: “Discipline the Key to Power” and “Discipline the Mark of Maturity." Scanning downwards, I became transfixed on one title: “How to Become a Disciplined Person.”
I quickly turned to that chapter and dug in:
“Begin by reading the entire book through, including the introduction, if you have not already done so. Some of you will spot the title of this chapter while scanning the contents and recognizing that becoming a disciplined person is the goal, will suppose to read only this chapter will be sufficient. Such an attempt may be symptomatic of your need of discipline.”
Sooner or later the Holy Spirit will “nudge” all of us in this vital area of our Christian life: discipline. God loves us and He knows that discipline brings needed change, godly character, fruitfulness, and healthy habits leading to the success we long for in life.
Small changes and remarkable results
Along my life’s journey, I came to realize the simplicity of the principle: “Sow a thought, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a lifestyle; sow a lifestyle, reap your destiny.” Investing in intentional actions for at least 28 days consistently can develop healthy habit patterns ingrained for the rest of our lives!
As an avid baseball fan living in the Maryland area, I still recall "Iron man" Cal Ripken breaking legendary Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, something most historians believed would never happen. Cal, who played in 2,131 consecutive major league baseball games, credited the healthy habits that he developed early on in his career and which he continued before every game for his success.
Apostle Paul and ancient Olympics
In writing to the Corinthian Christian community, the Apostle Paul referred to the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. Notice his challenge to the Corinthian Christians to put them on the pathway to success. Paul emphasized not the singularity of the prize but rather the attitude of the athlete and the non-negotiable of discipline.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes (Gk. "agonizes") in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1Cor.9:24–27).
As you launch into the new year, are you going for the gold in life? Do you want to be fruitful for the glory of God and are you looking forward to the heavenly rewards promised to those who are faithful?
Cast aside mediocrity (mediocre means "halfway up the mountain"!) to pursue excellence now and for all eternity.
It’s going to require discipline – sustained discipline – and lots of it. Let’s go for it!
President Abraham Lincoln said, "I'll prepare myself and one day my time will come." Decide now to make 2022 your greatest year yet!