Power of self-discipline

"Starting off the New Year, many people  make resolutions. Most never begin working on them, and few ever achieve them. There are two reasons for this: 1) lack of true intention or commitment - this is a belief and desire issue and 2) self-discipline A person must truly believe they can achieve change and also desire the results or benefits of the achieved goal. You have to clearly define the benefit and how it relates to you - how you will feel once you have achieved it and how it will positively impact you. This creates desire and intention. You must continually remind yourself of the results and benefit. Use a picture on the mirror or something else to give the reminder.


As for self-discipline, I recenlty read something from a leadership study by Dr. Ken Boa on self-discipline and wanted to share it.


Mischa Elman, one of the greatest violinists of the twentieth century, was walking through the streets of w:st="on"New York City one afternoon when a tourist approached him.  “Excuse me, sir,” the stranger began, “could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?”  Elman sighed deeply and replied, “Practice, practice, practice.”

Gary Player, one of the most successful international golfers of all time, lost count of how many times someone said to him, “I’d give anything if I could hit a golf ball like you.”  After one particularly grueling day on the links, Player couldn’t resist correcting the person, “No, you wouldn’t.  You’d give anything to hit a golf ball like me, if it were easy.”  Player then listed the things one would have to do in order to achieve his level of play: “You’ve got to get up at five o’clock in the morning, go out and hit a thousand golf balls, walk up to the club house to put a bandage on your hand where it started bleeding, then go and hit another thousand golf balls.  That’s what it takes to hit a golf ball like me.”

Another professional golfer, Chi Chi Rodriguez, put it this way.  He said, “Preparation through steady practice is the only honest avenue to achieving your potential.”  Octavia Butler, in an essay for aspiring writers, says, “First forget inspiration.  Habit is more dependable.  Habit will sustain you, whether you’re inspired or not…. Habit is persistence in practice."

Whether in the concert hall, the playing field or the classroom, the steadiness of practice is crucial for realized potential.  It is an even more critical issue when it comes to living the spiritual life.  We achieve great things by training ourselves. Through proper training, we form proper habits; we can intentionally choose those habits that are desirable for the formation of character.  Habits and practice seem obvious, ordinary, pedestrian; there aren’t many books that deal with this positively.  But without proper habits, we will never build forward momentum as we strain toward the goal of the high calling of Christ.  This momentum is built through a steady obedience – as Eugene Peterson calls it, “a long obedience in the same direction.”

Inspiration and talent will only carry you so far.  The habits you form will sustain you.  ...


In the book Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard uses the acronym V.I.M. to discuss the simplicity of discipleship. Our passion can often reveal to us a vision.  That vision will show us our intention.  But we must devise a means, a strategy for accomplishing that vision.  Vision, intention and means – these are the keys to accomplishment for any individual or organization.  But means involves discipline. "


w:st="on"Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart.  w:st="on"Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002, 85.

My vision this year is to keep a clean car. I took a picture of my now clean car and have put it on the mirror. I must remind myself daily to pick up the trash out of the car. I also remind myself how good I feel when my car is clean. I literally stop and imagine it being clean and re-live that feeling. That is called practicing within yourself. It is a form of building self-discipline.




Dr. Boa also wrote


"The apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline.  In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he emphasizes that, as followers of Christ, our spiritual lives form the core of our character:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The crown first-century athletes won was a laurel wreath.  This is a wonderful illustration for the things of this world that we attempt to reach.  A laurel wreath wilts in just a few hours.  It would never be worn a second day.  Likewise, the victories and plaudits of this world are short-lived.  It’s not long before the world wants to know, “What have you done for me lately?”  As leaders with an increasingly eternal perspective, however, we know that our prize will not fade or wear out.

As we spend time in the disciplines of the spirit, Paul says we’re to be like runners.  During the course of a race, runners don’t stagger from one lane to another.  They rivet their attention on the finish line and run a disciplined race toward it.  At the start of a marathon, all the runners are crowded together.  But over the course of the race they spread out.  And an interesting thing happens – fewer people finish than start.  The race of life is not to be compared with a sprint.  Let’s not deceive ourselves.  Life is a marathon.  And in the marathon, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that matters most."


So focus on finishing well by having a vision, identifying the benefits and working to build self-discipline. Start small. If you need to get up earlier, set the goal to do that for 5 days. If you need to work-out and currently don't, set the goal for twice a week for 20 minutes. Make your goals specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and have a time table (SMART).



Add comment

Security code