As we begin getting back to our daily routines, we have an opportunity to reset our priorities and come out of the gates with confidence and a new vision. Instead of looking back, let’s look forward to what God has placed in front of us, deciding today to use self-discipline as we take that first step.
It’s as if one chapter—or perhaps even a book—has closed, and now it is time for another to open!
We must be aware of a spiritual battle, a spiritual awakening that is taking place RIGHT NOW.
Well, there is a spiritual battle, a spiritual awakening that is taking place RIGHT NOW. The prophets have been prophesying for months about the changes taking place, and the Holy Spirit within each of us has been knocking at the door of our heart. It’s as if the very air has an electric charge of anticipation. We may not understand exactly what is going to change, but we know something BIG is about to shift!
So, what can we do to prepare for the shift? What is one of the keys to help us in the days to come—through good and bad?
One answer is discipline. Self-discipline… or if we prefer, self-control.
Obviously, there are many different things which could assist us in this transition. After all, with the transfer into a new decade, we could focus on a variety of self-helps. Yet, there is a unique importance for self-discipline in this season.
First, self-discipline is important as we wait.
Yes, things are shifting quickly, loudly, and with great purpose… but some things are not moving quite as swiftly as others. There are and will be times in this year, and decade, where we will have to sit and wait upon the Lord. And as our hearts are yearning for the promised change, this can take a great deal of self-discipline!
Secondly, self-discipline is important for preparation.
With any great change, comes a great need to prepare. This can tie into waiting. Yet, self-discipline in the area of preparation is unique… and uniquely important. As we see the prize within a hand’s-breadth, turning our focus to what the upcoming season requires can be difficult. Yet, for greater purpose and calling—for greater seasons—we need a greater level of knowledge, both supernatural and physical, to succeed. We cannot expect to do the work of a CEO with the background and preparation of a janitor; we need higher self-discipline and drive if God is to lead us from ocean floor to mountain top.
Thirdly, self-discipline is important in our ability to “do.”
This is vital for new seasons and new successes. As we grow in honor and blessing—in position and purpose—more is expected of us. This is a biblical principle and a fact of life. We cannot expect to lead a life of blessing and honor without having the self-discipline to behave as we ought. After all, with promotion comes more work and greater responsibility in our time, tasks, and activities that requires a higher self-discipline to succeed. Moreover, as we grow busier in the natural, we have to have the self-discipline to SEEK GOD! To take time out JUST for Him. To find Him. Get His permission. Praise and thank Him. To remember that it is He who brings us success. To do HIS will. Without self-discipline it is easy to worship the success, ignore God, and/or fail to put in the work needed to maintain our God-given success.
How Do We Find and Utilize Self-Discipline?
Now that we understand the importance of self-discipline… how do we find it? What is more, how do we even use it?
Well, there is no answer that will work for everyone or every situation, save one: seeking God and asking Him to help us develop self-discipline—not just for our sakes, but for the furthering of His Kingdom. Aside from that, everything else is subjective. However, that is not to say there are no tips to help us…
How can we—potentially—bring about self-discipline?
- Seek God
Yes, we mentioned this above. Yet, the importance of seeking God first, asking Him to help us, etc., cannot be overstated. “With God, all things are possible”… and when we seek Him, knock on His door, and ask Him, He WILL answer (see Matthew 19:26 and Matthew 7:7).
Through each season in our life, it is important to spend time with God and develop an ever deeper relationship with Him. And, while our heart and the Spirit within us may yearn to do so… our flesh can be weak. It takes discipline to seek God, but with Him—seeking Him, knocking upon His door, and asking for help—we can create a beautiful pattern of relationship. A beautiful use of the self-discipline He instills within us.
- Examine Our Habits and Patterns
Habits and patterns can be good, bad, or neutral… Certain habits or patterns may not be useful for the seasons and tasks at hand, even though they were useful in the last season. When we examine our habits and patterns, asking God to help us—perhaps even asking someone we live with or a close friend if there are any habits/patterns they have noticed—we are often surprised. Some habits and patterns reside in our thought processes or in our words, creating life or death through their continual presence. Others reside in actions, behaviors, or perhaps even our approach to work and/or relationships.
Yet, it is difficult to examine all of our habits or patterns; after all, as God’s special creation, we are very complex. Even in the habits and patterns that we do examine, it is important for us to remember that God is CONSTANTLY shaping us into His image. What we see today is not the final product. We cannot expect to come away from this year with every worrisome habit or pattern turned around for good… because it is a lifelong process. By taking just a few at a time—with God’s direction—we can expect quality, lasting results.
- Create New Habits and Patterns
If we want to get rid of old habits and patterns, most often we need to replace the old with the new. After all, if we are not selective—choosing a replacement for the old—then it is quite possible that an equally or worse habit/pattern could arise. So, if we are ridding ourselves of a habit of negative thinking, we need to create a new habit of positive thinking to fill our minds with good things. If we are ridding ourselves of a pattern of harsh words, we need to create a pattern of kind words to replace them. If we are ridding ourselves of a pattern of unhealthy living—such as poor eating choices, little exercise, etc.—then we need to create a pattern of healthy living—such as planning healthy meals, exercise habits, etc.
It is like a bottle. It can hold water, air, wine, carbon monoxide, or almost anything, but it is never empty. The second we pour liquid out of a bottle on earth, air pours in. If we take one thing out of our “bottle” something else will come in. And, while it is not always going to be something bad, it is better to know what is going into our bottle—choosing what God desires—than to be surprised.
While these are but a few of the possible ways to find and implement self-discipline, the heartbeat of it all is God.
“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”—Matthew 19:26 (emphasis added)
Self-discipline—also known as self-control or temperance—is one of the nine listed attributes of the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5). It plays a key role in our lives—not only in our daily activities, but also in our spiritual growth. Yet, self-discipline blossoms fully when it joins together with the other fruit, for they all work together in harmony… all coming out of the greatest gift, which is love.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”—Galatians 5:22-23
Finally, let us realize that the fruit of the Spirit, which includes self-discipline, is not merely for our own benefit. Although we benefit directly and indirectly, the greater purpose is to advance God’s Kingdom, to bring light to a darkening world, to love God, to serve Him, and in all ways, to be a voice of truth in word, action, and deed!
Let us shine the light of Heaven to all those we meet. Let us discipline ourselves to not merely serve our own desires, but to serve God’s will—knowing that when we seek His face, He causes our cup to run over.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”—Psalm 23:5