It is a new year and during this time many people make resolutions to start or continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behaviour, accomplish a personal goal, or simply try to improve their life in one way or another. Usually, people start out very well but after a while falter and soon their resolution list is left behind. Other times, people will make a list but never once attempt the things on it; they keep putting it off for tomorrow and before you know it another year comes around and it is not done. Unfortunately, I have been the main lead in both scenarios before and many times I failed to complete these tasks not because I do not have the time but most often because I do not exercise the discipline needed to complete them.
“Self-discipline is the ability to focus intently on a task or goal with the purpose of achieving a certain result” (Indeed.com). An important part of discipline is doing what you intended to, even when you don’t feel like doing it or when you are tempted to do something else. Discipline, even though hard to master, is a powerful trait to develop and exert because it will help you to achieve your goals in different areas of your life over time. More importantly, every believer must exercise discipline over his life so that there can be victory over temptation and sin.
Have a vision
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (Luke chapter 14 verse 28)
To develop discipline, you must have a plan; you must know what you are working for and what to do to get there. If not, you will find yourself all over the place, doing a lot of random things, with no endgame in sight. Consider the 100 metres sprint athlete. In preparing for an event, he or she does not spend time learning to bat and bowl. He or she will train by focusing on exercises and routines that will build speed, power, and resistance. Likewise, your goals and the steps you need to take to get there must be specific, obtainable, and relevant. Also, depending on the goal, they must have a timeline.
Once you have your goals outlined clearly, discipline becomes easier because you now know what you are working towards. This will help you to move forward because when you are no longer motivated to get the job done, knowing your goal, and remembering why you are doing it, will push you to do it even when you don’t want to. It will build your discipline.
“Self-discipline is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it gets” (Daniel Goldstein)
Count the cost
The Apostle Paul expresses that “every athlete in training submits to strict discipline.” (1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 24). Christianstoo must submit to a life of discipline, not for earthly rewards as in the case of athletes but for an eternal one. In an interview, Olympian and World Record Holder Usain Bolt once stated that “Dreams are free, but goals have a cost. While you can daydream for free, goals don’t come without a price. Time, effort, sacrifice and sweat. How will you pay for your goals?”
Discipline often requires sacrifice. The athlete may give up certain food and drink to keep the body in shape; the believer may deny himself certain pleasures that may lead to lust, greed, and immorality. As we set our hearts on spiritual things and exercise discipline, we put to death the deeds and desires of the flesh, and as we do the Holy Spirit produces within us the fruit of Spirit. We then begin to learn that what we lose compared to what we gain is worth it and understand what Paul meant when he declared “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ” (Philippians chapter 3 verse 8).
Consistency is key
Failure or a setback of any kind can be discouraging and may make you want to throw in the towel. Whatever your goal is, spiritually or otherwise, don’t give up. Use that failure or setback as a lesson and move on. While you are doing that, be aware of anything that can become a roadblock or a distraction and find ways around it.
Be consistent with what you are doing by prioritizing the things that you need to do and just do it, whether or not you want to. Paul urges that “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians chapter 3 verse 23) and while this may not always be easy, it is not impossible. Your tasks will become easier to complete as you extend discipline and consistency to them, but don’t lose sight of your goal. Remember, “therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you...because you know that your labour is not in vain” (First Corinthians chapter 15 verse 58).
Rose-Ann Durant is a young Christian from Kingston, Jamaica, who is currently living in the island of Barbados. She is an ardent reader who enjoys going to the beach, river and spending time outdoors.