Last week, I got to have lunch with my God-daughter. We both had reason to be in San Francisco and arranged for a fun lunch at the Ferry Building. As we were driving over there, she reminded her grandmother and I that she had to take a conference call during our lunch time.
I had to laugh as I saw her bring out a rather sophisticated “planner” that had color-coded note sections, sticky notes in strategic areas and specific pens for each task. She was ready for that call. She is a disciplined, young business woman.
Generally speaking, being a disciplined person is a good thing. Those “super moms” or incredibly talented dads who can balance home, work, kids, church, exercise and all the rest with apparent ease are deeply admired.
But the world’s version is a bit different than discipline for a believer. One author defined spiritual discipline this way: “A disciplined person is someone who can do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, with the right spirit.”
A disciplined follower of Jesus is by definition a disciple. It isn’t someone who has all the organizational “hacks” memorized; or employs all the latest digital tools. A disciple is someone who can discern “when laughter, gentleness, silence, healing words or prophetic indignation is called for and offers it promptly, effectively and lovingly.” (John Ortberg)
A disciplined child of God has submitted themselves for some training in wisdom. They value the Word of God and seek its insight for daily living. They are willing to be trained by Godly pursuits like prayer, fasting and giving. They submit their own talents and abilities on the altar of God’s preferences like Bible study and service to others.
The disciplined believer pursues those kinds of practices. He or she recognizes spiritual maturity, that can be shared with others, requires much more than just “trying.” It takes work. It takes practice. Doing the right thing over and over creates a meaningful “rut” that can serve us well.
So next time you are tempted to be jealous of a particularly well-disciplined individual, take some mental notes. Check out the results of those admirable disciplines. At the end of the day, are they more loving in their relationships? Are they kinder to others? Is their service sweeter? Are they more joy filled?
Discipline is a good thing. But being a well-trained disciple takes real effort. So, this week, let’s take to heart the counsel Paul gave Timothy (I Tim. 4:7): “…train yourself to be Godly.”