I COR. 9:24-27
In our world today, it seems as if only a few of us succeed; the majority of us suck salt! It’s my belief, that all of us have potential for success. However, many of us don’t know our potential, haven’t released our potential, and don’t know what it means to maximize our potential. Success in life is not automatic! It comes at a price. Those who desire to succeed in life must be intentional!
Success is birthed out of pain and struggle; yea even failure! Most of us are acquainted with the old adage: “no pain, no gain.” I say: no strain, no struggle, no success! Public speaker, Jim Rohn, proclaims, “you must suffer one of two things; either the pain of discipline, or the pain of regret.” It is said, “The pain of discipline weighs ounces. Regret weighs tons.” Which pain would you rather bear?
PROPOSITION: The success that God intends for us, requires rigorous self-discipline!
What is discipline? What are some of the manifold reasons why we should be discipline? In what manner should we exercise discipline? And, what are the marks of the disciplined life?
In this article I’m inspired to share with you the what, why, how, and marks of self-discipline.
I THE MEANING OF DISCIPLINE!
The word “discipline” is possessed with diverse meanings. It means, “punishment; a field of study; training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; self-control; to train (yourself) to do something by controlling your behavior.” (MWD) The main idea of discipline we are running with today is that of self-discipline or self-training. Self-discipline is training yourself to do what you should, how you should do it, and when you should do it. Self-discipline is also that of abstaining or restraining yourself from that which is not permissible or allowable! Discipline, says the late Dr. Myles Munroe, is “self-imposed standards for the sake of a higher goal.”
II THE MANIFOLD REASONS WHY WE MUST BE DISCIPLINED!
Self-discipline is imperative for becoming the person that God wants you to be. We must not see ourselves as finished products; we must see ourselves as a work in progress. As Dr. Mary Ruth Stone proclaimed, “we are not merely human beings; we are, more so, human becomings!”
Self-discipline is key to preparing yourself to carry out your life’s mission or to accomplish your life’s dream. It is the key to maximizing your potential. Potential is what you can be that you have not yet been! It is what you can do that you have not yet done! Potential is “an ability that someone has that can be developed to help that person become successful.” (MWD) Author and motivational speaker, Zig Zigler, deems success as “the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.”
Self-discipline is an absolute must for getting and keeping fit! To be fit is to be “morally or socially correct; suitable for a specific purpose; physically healthy and strong.” (MWD) Fitness is not achieved overnight; it is the progressive realization of a worthy goal!
Self-discipline is the secret to goal achievement! Without discipline, goal-setters will not become goal getters! We must discipline ourselves to do something towards the accomplishment of our goals daily.
Self-discipline is crucial for playing the game according to the rules. If we don’t practice the work ethics necessary to give us the winning edge, we can be tempted to be deceitful and cheat our way to the top. I recall the young American sprinter who initially won the gold medal in the 100-yard race. She was later tested for steroids and was stripped of her medal and sent to jail. In the Isthmian games of Corinth, victorious combatants were examined after the contest. If they were found guilty of contending unlawfully or of breaking the rules, they were stripped of their medals and driven from the games in disgrace.
The Apostle Paul testified: “like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise, I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.” (27; LB)
III THE MANNERS OF DISCIPLINE!
By manners, we mean “habitual conduct or behavior.” We are creatures of habit; good or bad! It is said: “habits determine 95% of a person’s behavior.” If we truly desire to be successful, we must make it our endeavor to cultivate winning habits. What are some of the winning habits we would do ourselves good to develop? Let me share with you a few. First of all, cultivate the habit of rising early from bed to start your day. The Bible says Jesus rose early; a great way before daybreak! We do ourselves good to experiment with the old adage: “early to bed, early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
Secondly, let me challenge you to make prayer the first activity of every day. The secret of success is putting God first! The practical way to do so is to talk to him in prayer and meditate on His word. Remember, we ought not to worry about anything; we are to pray about everything! It is through prayerful commitment to God as the priority of every day, that we demonstrate our reliance upon Him and our trust in Him directing our steps. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”(Ps. 37:23) God told Joshua, the secret to him experiencing good success in his leadership endeavors, was that of meditating on the word of the Lord day and night and observing to do according to all that is written therein. (Jos. 1:8)
Thirdly, we ought to cultivate the habit of investing in our personal development daily. This habit has to do with reading inspirational and motivational books, and listening to recorded messages to expand our knowledge and equip us for the accomplishing of our life’s mission and goals. Alongside this habit, should be that of always striving for self-improvement. We should be getting better and better! We should seek to expand on our skills, improve our service, and increase our influence! We never arrive in this life! Therefore, we should always strive to better ourselves. I’m sure we all admire Mr. Usane Bolt, the most famous gold medalist sprinter. He had the habit of breaking his own record at each Olympic track meet. He gave us ample proof that he is an advocate of always striving for self-improvement. We must seek to strain every nerve to better our best each time.
It is very crucial that we develop the habit of obeying success laws! Such laws guarantee our success when they are constantly obeyed. I don’t pose as being an expert in this area. I know about the law of concentration. Focusing all our attention and energies on one thing until it is completed. Sometimes we have to say like the apostle Paul: “this one thing I do!” (Phil. 3:13) In network marketing, we are taught to focus our attention on one business opportunity and put on donkey blinders to all the others vying for our attention. Another success law is the law of focus. A runner is trained to focus, not on the competing runners beside him/her, but on the goal line straight ahead of him. Author, Dr. Mike Murdock declares, “the only reason why men fail is broken focus.” Peter only began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus. In running the race that is set before us, the writer to the Hebrews states, “We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2; GWT) An interesting law I’m just learning of is the “law of attraction.” The ground of it is that you don’t chase after success, you attract it! Personal development is said to be the secret to attracting success. Someone said, “good luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” The bottom line is, the consistent practice of success habits and the faithful following of success laws will make you successful!
IV THE MARKS OF A LIFE THAT’S DISCIPLINED!
A disciplined life is marked by the constancy of purpose. When we are disciplined and are dedicated to our life’s mission or purpose, we will constantly attend to it. Paul was an apostle to the gentiles. He testified, “by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”(Acts 20:31) Another mark of a disciplined life is diligence. Diligence is defined as: “steady, earnest, and energetic effort: persevering application.” (MWD) Where there is a lack of discipline, there will be a lackadaisical spirit! When a person is disciplined, they won’t be easily discouraged; neither will they give up! The inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison was a great example of discipline. After more than a thousand failed attempts, he kept his enthusiasm until he broke through. The third mark of a disciplined life is personal growth. One of the most evidential fruits of being discipline is personal development or growth. A final mark of being discipline is steady progress. Advancing towards your goal steadfastly. I grew up hearing the statement: “practice makes perfect.” I prefer brother Lester Fahie’s version: “practice makes improvement.” IF we are disciplined, we’ll get better and better!
Discipline is said to be “the first secret of success!” Desire and decision will get you started; it takes discipline to keep you going and growing until you get to your desired place or destiny! Author, Brian Tracy declares, “the one human quality that must be developed for success, is self-discipline.” You and I cannot master anything without sustained self-training! Most people who have experienced great success, are those who through unrelenting self-discipline, have separated themselves from the pack and have become masters of their trade or service! Make a commitment to suffer the pain of discipline and save yourself from the pain of regret. Remember: “the pain of discipline weighs ounces; the pain of regret weighs tons.”