Another friend butted in, “Why do you want to get thinner? God loves you the way you are!” My friend said, “That’s easy for you to say, you are so stick-thin without effort and can eat anything you want! God must have showered you with metabolic powers.” Stick-thin friend retorted, “Well, I guess it’s just fair, ‘coz I had to work my butt off just to get passable grades in college while both of you slept through study sessions and still got the top spot.” I was silent throughout the exchange. I felt something was wrong with the picture but I could not pinpoint it during that instance.
Just the other day, someone made a comment to me, “I think being talented can work against you sometimes. You get so arrogant that you don’t build the discipline to strengthen your gift anymore.” And BOOM! Just like that, I figured what bothered me about the conversation we had those years ago.
Natural talents and inborn gifts do not give us the excuse to bail out on discipline. Discipline is the stewardship of God’s gifts to us. Lack of discipline does not please God, because it roots from either laziness or arrogance, both of which God hates. We have been given talents for God’s specific purpose for our lives and we dishonor Him if we don’t build them up through the discipline of learning and we miss opportunities to influence because of that.
Honestly, I need to work on my discipline in so many areas of life. But it excites me because there is more opportunity to depend on His grace. Reflecting on discipline brought me to three conclusions.
- Spiritual discipline is our starting point. The discipline of reading the Word, prayer and faith need to be our priority among all other discipline. Why? Because this is where we learn what is important in life, by knowing what is important to God. This is also where we get the motivation to be disciplined, because we will love what God loves. For instance, why exercise and eat healthy? Because our lives are God’s, and bad eating habits and lack of exercise take years away from our life (1Corinthians 6:19). Why be diligent to watch our life and our doctrine closely? Because God wants to save those who witness our lives (1Timothy 4:16). Why persevere? Because God desires to bless others by blessing us in what we do (James 1:25). It is also in prayer and in communing with God that we are able to cry out to Him for the grace to be disciplined, because honestly, it’s impossible without His grace to find joy in routine.
- Seek mentors who have gone ahead of you. If someone was able to conquer the challenge of being disciplined in a particular area, then it is not an impossible task. Seeing the success of others inspires us to press on.
- Enjoy the process! Discipline is not fun all the time, but you can certainly enjoy it to some level. For instance, when people ask me how I discipline myself to learn, I always answer honestly that I read. Usually the response would be, “But that’s so tedious and boring!” Well, I happen to enjoy reading to the point that I would have to discipline myself to stop reading and do something else. But that does not have to be everyone’s learning process. Many people learn by watching YouTube videos and that’s great, too. What exercise do I enjoy? I like running. But some people prefer zumba. And that’s fine. Unfortunately, there are times when you really have to do something you don’t enjoy at all just to get that skill upgrade. Well, during those times, I have no choice but to grit my teeth and keep my eye on the prize, knowing that in the end it will be worth it (Philippians 3:14).
P.S. My current health program prevents me from eating sucrose-laden food six times a week, so please feel free to call me out when you see me indulging my sweet tooth. Haha.