Thursday, November 19, 2009


I've learned that discipline is an important part of my life as a Christian. I don't get to just do whatever I want whenever I want. I have goals and priorities, and I need discipline to help me achieve them. Discipline gives me a plan, a direction, and a structure for my life that helps give it meaning.

I've learned that discipline is about being held accountable, not being punished. For example, I'm currently trying to lose weight. In order to do that, I need to be disciplined about my diet and my exercise. I have to go work out a certain number of times per week even if I'm feeling lazy, and I have to deny myself some of the food I crave. If I don't have that discipline, I won't achieve my goal of losing weight. Still, I'm not perfect, and sometimes I cheat on my diet or blow off a workout. Then I need to discipline myself by getting back on track. It wouldn't make any sense for me to just punish myself for my failure and then give up on the weight loss entirely. The whole point of discipline is to keep me working toward the goal, not to make me feel bad for the times when I mess up. Punishment isn't the same thing as discipline, and punishing myself won't help me lose weight. Instead, I remind myself of the importance of my goal and spur myself onwards instead of wallowing in regret for past mistakes. I need to be able to have the same type of accountability built into every goal that's important to me.

Self-discipline is really important. I can't just depend on other people to hold me accountable—I need to be able to do it myself. But self-discipline is about more than warning myself not to do bad things and committing myself to change when I do mess up. Self-discipline is also a positive thing. It means being my own cheerleader, encouraging myself to stay the course when I'm making progress and reminding myself how worthy my goals are when the going gets tough. I have to say, "Keep it up!" to myself just as often as I think, "Don't do that!". I need to be in touch with my own needs and make sure I'm giving myself what's necessary to do the things I want to do. Self discipline can mean making sure I get enough sleep so that I can wake up and be productive the next day. It can mean spending quality time with my loved ones and having a little fun sometimes so that I can stay emotionally healthy and retain a positive attitude that will help me accomplish my goals. Taking good care of myself is part of being disciplined. Being healthy and emotionally stable make it a easier to reach my goals and live a Christian life.

I've also discovered that discipline is about more than just willpower. Sometimes I need a little help keeping myself on track, and that's OK. I don't just will myself to eat healthy food and exercise regularly. I make sure that my favorite snack foods are never in my house, I usually avoid restaurants, and I pay a personal trainer to hold me accountable to a regular workout schedule and push me through challenging exercises. Likewise, I can't just will myself to be a good Christian—I need to develop strategies to help me and I need to bring in allies who will support me. My Christian life doesn't exist in a vacuum any more than my weight loss program does. There are distractions all around me that can draw me away from my goals, but there are also tools and networks that can help me. Discipline doesn't mean being strong enough to do everything myself. I need to marshal my own strength and abilities, but I also need to be smart enough to use any assistance at my disposal to help me reach my goals.

Sometimes discipline is tough. It can involve listening to people who are telling me I've got to do better, and I may need to face the consequences of my actions. It can be really painful to face my failings, but that's worth it if I have a chance to learn something that will help me achieve a cherished goal. If sin is standing between me and those I love, I need to face it so that I can repent and be free of its negative influence. Improvement is the point, not guilt. The pain of discipline will bring joy in the end, so it's worth it to me. The people who help discipline me are providing me a great service because they are helping me to grow. I may not fully appreciate that at the time, but once the painful part is over I can see what I've gained. Discipline is nothing to be afraid of, and I embrace it as part of my Christian life.

1 comment:

Jenny Lynch said...

Hi Kayla,
This is the first time I read your blog, but I really liked what you had to say! I heard about your blog because I work every day to promote a program called "Your Whole Life: The 3D Plan for Eating Right, Living Well, and Loving God." (It helps women on their journey to wholeness in Christ.) But your insights also helped me personally. Thanks! -Jenny Lynch

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