Hello! It’s Liberty (Nicki’s cousin) again. This is an article I recently posted on my blog, Freedom to Speak.
What comes to your mind when you hear that word?
Punishment? Restraint? Authority?
Well, if that’s what discipline means, then what does self-discipline mean? Who really wants to restrain themselves, or self-inflict punishment? On the flip side, being one’s own authority sounds mighty nice. Many people like the sound of that so much, they choose to live in a world in which they are their own master. No one tells them what to do. I make my own rules, they say.
Is that what self-discipline really is?
If I truly made all my own rules, I wonder if I would be strong enough to follow them. Making your own rules is easy. Perhaps. But is keeping your own rules any easier than keeping the rules of another?
I like order. Schedules make my world go around. So, in the hypothetical event that there was no higher authority in my life, I think I would still make my own set of rules follow some sort of structure.
I’d wake up at 7:00 everyday. I’d work out for an hour. I’d eat a healthy breakfast. I’d get right to my schoolwork and have it all done by noon! I’d eat a light lunch. During the afternoon I’d work on various projects. I’d then spend the rest of the day reading, writing, or doing whatever pleased my fancy, finishing the day with a nice meal and a tad of dessert.
But, in reality, human that I am, I’d hit snooze…five times. Then I would check facebook – just real quick! Thirty minutes later, I’d notice a cramp in my leg. So, “unfortunately,” I’d put off exercising until tomorrow. I’d begin to work on school, but get tired of it, and take a break. By mid-afternoon, I would realize that I hadn’t accomplished anything except for five algebra problems and six chapters in my favorite novel. Since the day had gone so askew anyway, I’d probably plant myself in front of the TV and chuckle at dumb jokes and crude humor until I dragged myself to bed at 10:00 or 11:00. Oh, and I wouldn’t have stopped at a healthy breakfast, a light lunch, or a tad of dessert, either….
You see, even though I like structure, I still lean toward the lazy side. (I hate admitting that.) It’s hard to pull myself out of bed, open the books, and study till my brain hurts. I don’t always like working out or eating healthy. The piano bench doesn’t look so inviting when I’d rather apply my fingers to the computer keyboard than the piano keys. Can you identify?
The apostle Paul seemed to understand our struggles. In Galatians 5:17, he writes:
“Our sinful selves want what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit wants what is against our sinful selves. The two are against each other, so you cannot do just what you please.”
So, what makes me rise out of bed early every morning? What makes me do my least favorite school subjects? What makes me sit here and rack my brain until I think of a blog-worthy article?
Well, for one, I have parents. But even they don’t have complete control over me. There is a higher authority to which I am held accountable, and that is Jesus Christ. I know He created me. I know He loves me. I know that one day, I’ll see Him face to face! This is the Bible verse that motivates me now:
“In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.” Colossians 3:23
But even Jesus doesn’t demand that I give Him complete control of my life. He gave me the choice to serve Him. And each day, I am faced with more choices. But I choose to let Him control me. And that is more motivating than any earthly reward.
Something holds all of us accountable. You may think you’re living for yourself. But we’re not energizer bunnies. Something pulls us every day to get out of bed and get on with life. Is it your job? Your family? Your own desires?
All these things can hold us accountable for a little while. But in truth, people will disappoint us. We will disappoint ourselves! Sure, there’s the temporary reward we get after going to work, exercising, or being kind to a neighbor. But at the end of life, is even that a suitable reward for all the discipline we subjected ourselves to?
Because I follow Jesus, my life will no longer be a mundane cycle of activities day after day. By living for Jesus, my life truly comes alive. Every day is new and exciting, and I have a purpose. That is a reward worth living for!
Discipline is necessary for an orderly life, and ultimately, an orderly world. But when there is no authority – no purpose – discipline is practically impossible. Some authorities and purposes are better and offer longer-lasting rewards than others. But only One authority offers a reward that is eternal. I’ve found Him. Have you?
My life, and my schedule, are still far from perfect. There are days where I hit snooze…five times. There are days when I don’t get everything accomplished except for five algebra problems and six chapters in my favorite novel. But I’m working on it – not for me – but for Jesus. And the best part is, I don’t have to depend completely on my own will-power (of which there is a constant shortage), because He helps me.
This book, Do Hard Things, contains some awesome insights concerning discipline. It was written for teenagers by Alex and Brett Harris, who were teens themselves when they wrote it.
The world expects little out of teens – little other than getting through high school and getting into trouble. But the Harris brothers have a different opinion of teens’ potential and their purpose.
If you’re ready for an inspiring read and a good challenge, I suggest you get this book! Also visit the website, dohardthings.com.