The Power of Discipline

I really don’t want to write right now.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say (those of you who know me know that I always have something to say), it’s just that I don’t feel like saying it right now. Or, more to the point, I don’t feel like writing it right now. I’d much rather invite you over for a beer and a chat, or get up and share my thoughts in front of a group of people. It’s the writing that feels like a chore. I want to be a writer, and as a pastor without an office of a faith community without a building, writing is an important part of how I do what I do. I know this. I just don’t feel… inspired. Which is precisely why I’m sitting down to write before the end of my Thursday deadline instead of moving into the other room to watch the end of the Wichita State game (go Shockers!). I’m working to develop a discipline.

Discipline. Whenever I hear the word I think of nuns with rulers (whoa, where did that come from? I don’t think I’ve ever even met a ruler-wielding nun!). I think of coercion and harshness and outside expectations and control, all of which I give me hives. perhaps that’s why I’ve pushed back my whole life on being a disciplined person.

The problem is, I want to grow. I am at an age in my life where, though I like who I am, I’d like to learn new things and improve on the things I do now. And, I’m beyond the age where new things seem to come naturally to me. The truth of my life these days is this: it is not too late for me to grow, but it’s going to take work.

It’s going to take discipline. Not the coercive kind, but the kind that involves intentional, methodical practice. That kind that involves developing practices that I do even when I don’t feel like it. Like getting up early to run. Some mornings I feel energized and all I want to do is hit the pavement, but more often than not I wake up feeling groggy and stiff. True physical transformation will only come through running when I really feel like it and when I really don’t.

True transformation takes discipline.

That’s true whether we’re cultivating a skill, like writing or a physical attribute, like fitness. It is also true of cultivating a spiritual life.

Whether it is daily prayer and meditation, weekly participation in a spiritual community, regular service of others, sharing what we have as a reminder that people are more important than things, or sharing our joy and enlightenment with others, cultivating a spiritual life takes regular practice and commitment. If we want to grow beyond where we are right now it requires discipline.

So where are the places you’d like to grow in your life? Are you content with where you are on your spiritual journey or do you believe that there is more out there for you to discover, encounter, become? What practices might stretch you and strengthen you? What disciplines might help grow you into the person you’d like to be?

I hope you’ll share your reflections with us, and consider joining us as we search for the disciplines that are meaningful to our community. I’m excited to see who we might become.

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