This blog is a part of series of blogs I’m writing on 11 Life-Changing Lessons on Leadership, Relationships and Personal Life.
Lesson Two: It’s the Pain of of Discipline or the Pain of Regret
A lot of success in life, relationships and personal life come from the ability to be disciplined. I often tell people, “It’s the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” There is always pain in life, so you must ask yourself the question, “Am I willing to experience the pain of discipline in order to succeed?” Many people want to succeed but they aren’t willing to put in the discipline to make it happen. You may not know this about me, but I am an “expert” on the subject of dieting and health. I know all the answers. I know what to do. I can help you lose weight and stay healthy, but there are times in my life I just don’t practice what I preach. Lately I’ve been working out at the gym. It must be doing something because I’m sore from the workouts. That’s the pain of discipline. Then I look down at the extra 15 pounds I’m carrying around my middle – that’s the pain of regret☺.
Paul gave some great advice to his protégé, Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Paul chose a word that had athletic connotations. Paul was explaining to Timothy that godliness often comes through discipline.
In 1983, I was sitting in my bedroom having some quiet time with God. I wish I could say that happened every day. It didn’t. I was unfocused and had high hopes for time with God, but it didn’t happen consistently. That morning I found myself telling God that I would like to give him two hours a day. I had heard that was what Billy Graham did and I had known a Korean pastor in graduate school who gave God 10% of his day for prayer and Bible reading. But as those words came out of my mouth, I knew that I would fail. I had started to say one hour each day, but I knew that would also be setting myself up for failure. So, in the quietness of my bedroom in my heart I said, “God, I would like to commit to 20 minutes with you each day.” It sounded a bit wimpy, but it also felt right. I made a commitment to God that I would try to spend 20 minutes with Him each day. I have missed days some days since then, but as I get older, those missed days happen less and less. I believe that much of the strength I have to do life and be effective with my family and ministry comes out of those 20 minutes a day.
In those quiet moments I don’t always remember what I did, but it still nourishes me for the day. How about you? Do you practice the discipline of spending time with God daily? Maybe it’s not 5 minutes instead of 20 minutes. Discipline creates a habit that becomes a habit of your heart. I love the story about a day in the life of Jesus found in Luke 6:12-17. To summarize, Jesus spent time in the morning in a quiet place, praying and listening to God. He then came back and spent time with his disciples. I call those kinds of relationships “replenishing relationships.” From his quiet time and fellowship, He was able to do ministry. Too often we pour all our energy into our work and end up giving our family only our emotional scraps because we are so dry from lack of solitude or replenishing relationships.
Practicing the pain of discipline is always worth it. It’s a simple message but not always easy.
Next week: Lesson Three: If the Devil Can’t Make You Bad, He Will Make You Busy