Discipline–A Dirty Word Today?
Discipline [dis-uh-plin]–activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
Then this morning I was like, “Why am I afraid to use it? What’s the big deal???” Discipline is a good thing. A very good thing! It’s discipline that enabled me the skill to play face-melting metal guitar. It was discipline that empowered me to gain 25 lbs. while simultaneously decreasing my body fat % in less than one year back in ’98. It wasn’t luck and genetics. It was discipline that earned Ana’s law degree, not luck and genetics. It was discipline that got my sister into the IUPUI Hall of Fame for volleyball (look it up) not luck and genetics. (Conversely, it was due to a lack of discipline that I did not earn an engineering degree from Purdue. And because of a lack of discipline of going to the dentist I enjoyed having two abscessed teeth yanked out of my head a couple hours before going to a wedding rehearsal in which I was the best man.)
Discipline, discipline, discipline, I love discipline! (Ron Burgundy voice) Oh it feels so good to yell that. You know what two of my favorite books are? The Spirit of the Disciplines and Celebration of Discipline. Celebrate discipline baby!
I think what is so perturbing to me is that by turning our nose up to discipline and acting like it’s a travesty to be challenged, we disempower ourselves. We are capable of so much, and because we are afraid of discipline, we sell ourselves so short on the lives we could be living. Isn’t discipline just consistency and habit formation? Is that bad or offensive? To want empowerment for others we care about so they can live in more freedom? That is what discipline brings, freedom.
Any improvement or growth you’ve made has involved discipline to some degree. So why do we hate hearing about discipline in the spiritual life so much? Aren’t we to mature in Christ? What is it? What is so repulsive about reading and listening to Scripture every day? What is ridiculous about a set aside time for focused prayer every day? Or encouraging one another daily? Is the pain of it just absolutely unbearable? Are we too addicted to our idol of comfort in modern day America? Are we in love with our autonomy too much to where we can’t stand the idea of handing over any of it to someone or something else? Giving up any control whatsoever? Having any accountability? Again, going by the defensive reactions to the word, I’d say the answer to those questions is the affirmative. The mere thought of discipline in the spiritual life seems to be just paralyzingly awful to some. Don’t spiritual disciplines bring about really positive fruit in one’s life and therefore those around them?
Doing the same thing at the same time everyday is good. It’s habit forming. It’s helpful.
It’s good to do hard things.
It’s good to be challenged.
We can be so much more, living so much more freely, yet it seems we hamstring ourselves because we don’t like this word or thought. I kind of want to start replacing actual offensive words with this filthiest of words from my dirty pirate hooker mouth: Son of a Discipline, Mother Discipliner, Holy Discipline, and of course the very controversial Goddisciplinnit. Oh this is fun, it feels sooooo good to get this out of my system!
I think my new discipline will be to use the word discipline 77 times a day for the rest of my life.
I do realize that the definitions at the top of the page prove that discipline is pointlessly painful and a stupid waste of time. So because of that, I apologize for this rant. Look I’m just trying to keep a sense of humor about all this.
Anyway, as has been said before:
Freedom is not the absence of rules, it’s the presence of discipline.
And if you don’t like it, then you can just go discipline yourself.
(see what I did there?)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria