Have you ever found yourself sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, knowing that you really should go finish your work, yet feeling utterly powerless as the next episode starts in 3… 2… 1? Me too.
Although my schedule was busy and my to-do list anxiety provoking, I simply could not stop watching TV, checking my social media every few minutes, and procrastinating to lengths that made me even more anxious and even less efficient and effective in school, ministry, work, and just about every other area of my life. Eating way too many snacks while watching one too many F.R.I.E.N.D.S episodes felt good at the moment, but once I was finally able to muster up the strength to turn off the TV, I found myself battling with the loud voices of inadequacy, failure, and shame because I couldn’t get it together and just do what I had to do. The worst part is that my struggle with self-discipline wasn’t just impacting me; it was impacting how I treated my family and how I served God and His people.
Don’t get me wrong. Watching TV is relaxing and fun, especially when you do it with people you love, and social media is a great platform to encourage and build others, but when we lack self-discipline, these things and many others can also weigh us down in our walk with God and in the race He’s calling and equipping us to run. Recently, the Holy Spirit has really been creating in me the desire to run this race well – to carry out the purpose God has for me without holding back.
I’ve never been much of an athlete myself, but after watching my sister run cross country for a few years, I’ve learned that running requires athletes to give up comfort, go through rigorous training that just plain HURTS, and to shed any extra weight that slows them down. Athletes put themselves through all of this because they see the value in getting stronger and faster, and they want to win. The extreme significance of the end is what propels them to practice self-discipline in the beginning. When we understand that the prize of this Christian race won’t collect dust on display, but will result in eternal life with Jesus and eternal life for the broken and lost, it must - it will - propel us to die to ourselves and strip off every weight and sin that slows us down.
I don’t know in what areas you are struggling with self-discipline, but I do know that God is good and He sees us in our struggles and helps us strip off the weight so we can be free and give our all to Him and His people. Learning self-discipline is a process that like training, hurts and requires you to go against what you want to do, to do what you don’t want to do because it’s what’s best for you. It’s not an easy process, but you can start with these principles:
- Acknowledge and accept that there are things and sins in your life that aren’t aligned with His will and that are slowing you down and tripping you up (Hebrews 12:1).
- Ask God to search your heart and to show you if there’s any way in you that isn’t aligned to His will (Psalm 139:23-24).
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you die to yourself, get rid of emotion/spiritual/mental damage, overcome sin, break down harmful habits and build up good ones, and most importantly, to strengthen you through His might and feed you through His word to be able to do all of those things.
As you start building self-discipline, you’ll see the freedom, joy, peace, efficiency, and effectiveness that come with it. This will not only help you do better in school and work, but more importantly, it will free you up to serve, love, listen, and give more because your heart and mind will be available to others rather than in a hurry to make up for lost time and resources. Don’t get me wrong, the process is hard and will probably be longer than you hope, but every race has a starting line, and today you have the power to step up to that line and set off to win the prize.
Creative Team Producer