Discipline is an act that is often misunderstood, always needed, but too rarely embraced. It means, “To instruct a person to follow a particular code of conduct or order.” Or it can mean, “Training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character,” and finally, “Control gained by enforcing obedience or order.” It is derived from the Latin word, disciplīna, which means teaching or learning.
The Latin version is easier to accept: teaching and learning are positive actions that can be fun and rewarding.
Then again, Webster says: correcting, molding, enforcing, code of conduct, and perfect mental facility; this version of discipline should be on the library shelf next to beatings, natural root canal, and toe nails: infected.
At least, that is generally my initial reaction to having discipline dumped upon my shoulders, whether by myself or another. I know that kids resist discipline because they are kids, and even though resistance is futile, their genetic code seems wired to fight back against the tyranny of going to bed at 9:00 pm on a school night. Perhaps my mind is wired to believe that the possibility of enjoyment is diminished in the presence of discipline.
- Why have two cookies when four are in the jar?
- Why do 50 sit-ups when it takes less time to do 25?
Why not yell S— at the TV when the Giants blow a three run lead in the 9th. Come on, three runs? And, it’s not like the kids haven’t heard you cuss before.
Brush your teeth, change the oil in your car, pay bills on time, save money, tithe, walk the dog … the list of discipline required actions is as long as your day. My keen sense of deductive reasoning then tells me that some degree of discipline is required for all our actions. So then discipline is not bad, it is just always here, tapping us on the shoulder, reminding us of the results when we ignore its warning, and the benefits when we listen.
Chaos can reign when discipline is ignored (if you have a 14 year old child look in their room to see what I mean). Talk to any athlete and they will tell you that discipline is the corner stone to winning. Having a disciplined approach to work, family, or health doesn’t guarantee success, but it is always a requirement.
So what about our Christian life? If discipline is so large a requirement to be successful in the rest of our life, the same reasoning must apply with God.