Okay so, as the title suggests, this is not going to be a soft post. And frankly, this post is for Christians only. I’m not saying you won’t get something out of the basic discipline principles I’m going to discuss, but I’m gonna make some pretty strong claims that will really only stick to those who claim Christianity. And this is more than just “I believe that God exists and that I should try to be a good person.” This is for Christians who seriously, truly, deeply want to become like Christ. (Also, buckle in, this is a long post)
Discipline is a topic that is often overlooked because it’s about as fun as being waterboarded. (I’m assuming – I’ve never been waterboarded. I’m not some kind of terrorist as far as I know) And yet, discipline is such an integral part of Christian living. A lot of times when the Bible mentions discipline, it refers to correction, like in Proverbs 12:1 –
Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid. (ESV)
While yes, correction is important, the discipline I’m talking about is the consistency type of discipline. Like drinking the recommended amount of water in a day (who actually does that) or putting your spare change into your Buddy Barrel.
Why is it so important to live a disciplined life though?
Why can’t we just take things one day at a time and hope for the best? Well, to put it bluntly, because that would be a sin. Lack of discipline is laziness, and there just isn’t any room for lazy people in the kingdom. God requires our obedience, as he reminds us in 1 Samuel 15:22 –
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. (NASB)
So what kinds of things are we supposed to have discipline in then?
Obedience doesn’t always look like packing up your earthly possessions to minister to orphans in Zimbabwe. Obedience doesn’t always require that we drop everything and become traveling preachers (do people still do that even?) Our obedient lives can all look a little different, depending on our calling.
Did God call you to be a rocket scientist? Awesome! You go witness to all those rockets. Did God call you to be a Marine Biologist? Then go and make disciples of all the fishes. You probably know what you’re called to. One thing remains constant for everyone though: We are all to become like Christ, and Christ lived a very disciplined life.
As hilarious as this would be, Jesus did not go around saving sinners and saying, “Go into all the world and TREAT YO SELF”. No. Jesus called us to abandon our former lives and become new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) and this includes our lifestyle. As Christians, God requires better from us than just doing whatever. We have to be purposeful in our lives.
Specifically, we have to be purposeful in these areas of our lives every single day:
- Bible Reading
I’ve created a weekly checklist with all of those 7 things on it which you can snag by signing up for my email list here. Every week in my newsletter I’ll include different ways to help you make sure you’re getting all those boxes checked. Before you start though, it’s important to understand why each of these things was included.
This one is probably the most “duh” of all of them to me. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing” and that is literally as simple as it gets. We need to pray every single day – and pray a lot. Communication with God is the #1 way to ensure that we have our priorities straight. Start your day with prayer, and then end it in prayer. Pray all throughout the middle too.
Oh, and you should be in church every week, but I guess that’s a different post for a different day.
2. Bible Reading
Remember in Prince of Egypt, when Moses, voiced by Val Kilmer, found the burning bush and it started talking to him? And how Val Kilmer also did the voice of God so it was Val Kilmer telling Val Kilmer how he was gonna use him to do all his wonders? God’s voice isn’t always Speilberg quality drama like that y’all. Most of the time, at least for me, God speaks through the word He has already provided. Confirmation of what I feel in my prayer time comes from what I’m reading in my Bible time. It’s still way cool, because God is definitely speaking, it just didn’t have anything to do with Val Kilmer, which is probably better.
Woah, woah woah hang on just a minute there. Am I trying to tell you that going to the gym is scriptural? Only if you’re going to The Lord’s Gym, honestly. In all seriousness though, I find that forcing myself to exercise is a spiritual discipline. I hate it a lot, but it’s necessary to keep my body healthy, and since my body is not my own, I need to take good care of it.
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
I Corinthians 19-20 (NIV)
Those verses were actually written about sexual immorality, but the truth still remains – our bodies are a gift and we should be taking care of them.
This ties in pretty closely to exercise as you can imagine, but it holds a special place for me. I am a binge eater. I eat during every kind of emotion. At my worst, I hide food and at my best, I cook way too much for everyone and eat more than I should. In the same section of 1 Corinthians, Paul says,
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” (NIV)
Food has a tendency to run my life, and that in itself is sinful. In his book Fasting, Jentzen Franklin describes what he calls “King Stomach” and how we have to become the master over King Stomach or he will rule us. (The entire book is a goldmine of information about fasting, another often overlooked discipline of Christianity. It’s too much to get into here, but I’ll just say 11/10 would recommend the book for anyone.)
I suggest every night planning out your meals for tomorrow so that there are no surprises. Pack a lunch the night before, thaw the chicken in advance, make your grocery list ahead of time. Do whatever it takes to avoid a situation where you are tempted to just drive through somewhere or call in for a pizza.
I am so bad at budgeting. Well, let me clarify, I am really good at making a budget. It’s all cute and has a little pie chart and every dollar is accounted for. I am so, so bad at sticking to that budget. Sometimes life happens and that sucks because $400 of new tires just wasn’t in the plan. But sometimes a sale happens and I get the mental image of Jesus saying “Go into all the world and TREAT YO SELF” and then I’m Ben Wyatt in a Batman suit. That wasn’t in the plan either and I have no valid excuse for that kind of nonsense.
Kai and I are trying a modified version of Dave Ramsay’s plan, where we’re doing envelopes for groceries and eating out but nothing else, and we’ve got our fully fleshed out (super cute) budget on the fridge to help keep us accountable. My goal is to every night balance that out so that we can be sure we’re being good stewards of the money God has given us. (And yes, tithing is a huge part of that)
This one may not be as obvious as the others, but we need to discipline ourselves in our relationships too. We need to make sure that we’re being good stewards of our marriages or our relationships with our kids or parents. No matter where you’re at in life, you probably have people you see every day. You need to every single day make sure that you’ve been kind, you’ve prayed for them (or with them ideally) and you’ve spent quality time together. Haphazard interactions create conflicts we don’t want. Discipline yourself to enrich your relationships.
Finally, be disciplined enough to rest. After we’ve done all those other things, we should take some time to decompress and rejuvenate ourselves. Maybe that’s chilling out with your favorite video game or reading the best blog in the world. Maybe it’s curling up with a good book or playing speed chess. Whatever it is, do something you enjoy and refill your tank. Then get to bed at a reasonable hour so you’re not tired for tomorrow.
Phew that was a lot, dude
I know. But let me tell you this: Kai (my husband) and I have been working on purposeful discipline pretty seriously for about three weeks now. We work out together every night after putting our boy to bed, and we pray together every day. I’m trying to cook cleaner and keep up with the budget and guess what? Our marriage has never been better. We’ve both started losing weight and we feel more energetic. Our communication is better. We feel God is speaking to us in new and exciting ways. Life is good.
It’s hard to stay disciplined. It’s hard to force yourself to pray or workout when you don’t want to. Jesus never promised easy though. And honestly, if it was easy, then the path wouldn’t be so narrow. Every day I force myself into submission though, it gets a tiny bit easier. There are some days that are better than others, but obedience is definitely worth it.
So okay. Sign up for my email club and get the discipline checklist so you can work the plan with me and get weekly updates and suggestions. You won’t regret it, and that is an absolute promise. We can do this y’all! We’re gonna make ourselves more like Him one checkbox at a time.
(P.s. This post contains some affiliate links. Read all about that here)
That is all.