A couple of weeks ago, my ladies Bible study continued with Session 2: Discipline in the book:
Character: Reclaiming Six Endangered Qualities, InterActions Series
By Bill Hybels / Zondervan
You can read my post on the previous session here: Session 1: Courage
The key passage for Session 2: Discipline is:
Proverbs 1:1-7 “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance— for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Because it was used a couple of times in the key verses, I looked up the definition of prudence. It is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, shrewdness in the management of affairs, skill and good judgement in the use of resources, and caution or circumspection as to danger or risk. I think that knowing this definition helps with understanding of the verses.
This session focuses on four areas of personal discipline: Spiritual, Physical, Financial, and Relational. In each section, it has us reflect on how disciplined we think we are in these areas.
The Essence of Discipline… Delayed Gratification
The author describes delayed gratification as “the commitment to schedule the pain of life first so we can really experience the pleasures of life that follow.” So in our areas of personal discipline, delayed gratification might look like the following:
Spiritual: Waking up a little earlier or going to bed a little later in order to commit some time to spend reading the Bible, praying, and having quiet time with God.
Physical: Committing to exercise on a regular basis and making healthy food choices.
Financial: Creating a savings plan in order to slowly set aside money for a big purchase, vacation, and/or retirement.
Relational: Make an effort to have heart-to-heart talks with a friend or family member you desire to have an authentic relationship with.
The Practice of Discipline… Advanced Decision-Making
Once deciding that delayed gratification is essential to discipline, we must take the next step. This involves making decisions ahead of time about how we will practice discipline in our lives. If we have a plan set firmly in our mind, then when temptation comes to ignore the plan, we will be more likely to stick to the plan. Some plans might look like the following:
Spiritual: Committing to be involved with a local Bible study group and making time to do the homework before each meeting.
Physical: Scheduling time several times a week to go to the gym and/or workout at home.
Financial: Creating a monthly budget and sticking to it.
Relational: Make time to regularly call, write, and/or meet a friend or family member.
The Rewards of Discipline
When we are able to commit to delayed gratification and advanced decision-making in order to be disciplined in our daily lives, we start to see the benefits of being disciplined. Rewards could be as follows:
Spiritual: A growing and mature Christian life and a close relationship with God.
Physical: A healthy body, increased energy, and increased self-worth.
Financial: Being free from debt and not having to live paycheck to paycheck.
Relational: Having a flourishing marriage, family life, and close, significant friendships.
I have had enough experience in my life to know the downfalls of not being disciplined in each of these areas. I think that I am pretty disciplined in my planning and organization. However, putting my plans into action is a different story. In all of the areas we discussed, I have some work to do. Being disciplined in each of these areas requires constant attention, perseverance, and prayer!