Who me — Discipline Myself?

Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness

(1 Timothy 4:7).

Here in Oregon, hundreds of people join the annual race from Mt. Hood to the Pacific coast. It must be exhausting, especially as sometimes it’s raining and incredibly windy.  Other times it’s so hot runners get offered bottles of water all along the route.  But it must also be exhilarating, or why else would these insane people discipline themselves for weeks and weeks of training?  And then actually run, no matter the weather?

I was not raised to be disciplined.  I enjoyed school, did my homework without my parents fussing at me, and generally got along in life.  But when I became a follower of Jesus, my problems with discipline soon appeared.

In my book, I’m Too Human to be Like Jesus: Spiritual Growth for the Not-so-Perfect Woman, I tell the story of trying to get my Bible study done in the early mornings—but I wasn’t very successful. My young children bothered me as soon as the bed creaked, plus I really wanted to just lie there until I absolutely had to get up! Do you relate?  It wasn’t until I chose time with God over my weary body that I discovered the power and benefit of disciplining myself for “the purpose of godliness.”

 

Fast forward several years. Have I got my need for discipline whipped into shape?  I wish!

I am getting to the gym quite regularly (instead of day-dreaming about it) —which is making me stronger and keeping my diabetes in good control. But, there’s another area where it’s needed.  And it’s to do with the use of my time—and priorities–once again.

On a recent Sunday I decided to practice some self-discipline. I wanted to see if I could break my addiction to checking email and discipline myself for something more important.

Here are some things I did, and learned.

  • I chose to deliberately fast from email. I made the decision to give up one thing to give time to another. That’s my definition of fasting whether it’s food or anything else that has control over me. In fact, instead of merely not looking at my inbox for the day, I determined to not even turn on my laptop. I knew I’d been responding like Pavlov’s dog to every sound and wanted to break that compulsion.
  • I learned that I could control myself. I could create more time to spend in His presence  reading the Word, a spiritually expanding book, or taking time to think, reflect, pray, and relax.
  • I discovered I don’t have to allow email, or any other habit, to gobble up the hours in my day. For someone who isn’t naturally self-disciplined, this was a major victory! Now I’m pumped to try something a little more challenging to help me grow some more.

How about you?  Is there a habit, attitude, or hard-to-break behavior that needs kicking out of your life? It won’t happen by magic, but it will happen if you ask God for help and then follow through with the necessary action.

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