I am not a disciplined person.

Now for those of you who know me, let me explain. I am a very productive person. But I think there’s a difference between disciplined and productive.

One of the greatest revelations of my Detox Month was this very fact. Of course, deep down I’ve known that for some time. Take losing weight, for example. I have struggled to make any progress in this area despite the fact that I not only know what I should be doing (eating healthy, exercising regularly), but I value it! But I don’t actually do it. This issue carries over into several areas of my life, manifesting itself slightly differently but still at the core being the same.

Through the process of eliminating distractions during February, I was finally able to hear His voice. He graciously revealed to me the root of my struggle with discipline: selfishness. At the very heart of the issue, I do what I want to do. I know that eating that chocolate chip cookie at midnight will not help me lose weight (and I’ll feel guilty for doing it!), but I will eat it because I just want to. Because it tastes good and I value that pleasure over the longer term consequence. (Are you thinking Romans 7 here?)

In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, a young boy and a shopkeeper engage in a conversation about traveling to Mecca. The boy asks why the shopkeeper does not go to Mecca. He responds with this explanation: “You dream about your sheep and the Pyramids, but you’re different from me, because you want to realize your dreams. I just want to dream about Mecca.” Although our desire to settle for dreaming is for different reasons, I feel the same as the shopkeeper. I like the idea of traveling to Mecca, but I have no real intentions of going.

If, for me, the opposite of discipline is selfishness, then how does that help me define what discipline is? Standard definitions typically focus on training within a set of rules. Somehow, that definition fell short of fully defining discipline for me. I finally arrived at the following conclusion: Discipline is pressing on toward a goal, setting aside all other competing endeavors in order to reach that goal. Discipline requires sacrifice, diligence, planning, passion . . . loyalty to the objective (or object).

Looking to Jesus as an example, we see what discipline looks like in very practical terms:

  • In Mark 1:35-39 – Jesus moves on to the next town, sacrificing “good work” behind because of His ultimate mission.
  • Matthew 13:58 – Jesus does not perform many miracles in hometown because of their unbelief, sacrificing his pride.
  • Luke 22:42 – Jesus asks that His cup be removed, but submits to the will of the Father
  • John 19:30 – His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

And of course the disciples (from which the word discipline is derived) provided many more examples.As we near Easter and ponder the work of Christ on the cross, I am convicted that He deserves my being disciplined.