Discipline Is A Choice
“I just need to get motivated.”
“I just need to find motivation.”
“If only I were more motivated.”
“I’m waiting to feel motivated.”
How many times have you said to yourself that you’re going to start something but end up not following through with it because you weren’t motivated enough? I would then argue that perhaps you were more interested than committed.. When we are interested in something, we do it when it’s convenient and when we feel like it. When we are committed to something, we choose discipline and make the necessary sacrifices to see it through. Ultimately, our actions are what reveal whether we are committed or interested.
There is a lot I could go into but for today I simply want to remind you that discipline is not something you will just have but something you must choose.
Choosing discipline means no longer bowing down to emotions.
Choosing discipline is choosing truth-driven purpose over emotion-driven preference.
Choosing discipline is choosing commitment over interest.
Choosing discipline is choosing self-control.
Choosing discipline is choosing what we want most instead of what we want now (props to Abraham Lincoln for that one!).
Choosing discipline is choosing what will matter in eternity over the things that are temporary.
I have discovered that the more I view God as holy and desire Him above all else, the more I love to be disciplined in the things I ought to be disciplined in. Discipline doesn’t have to be all grit and duty. With time, it can be chosen with joy and delight! I remember hearing that it takes doing something 21 times before it stops feeling uncomfortable. 21 times! Don’t give up. Lean in and trust that the Holy Spirit can turn what starts as discipline into desire.
The 5 P’s To Pursue With Discipline
No matter where you are in your health journey, I’d like to share with you the five “P’s” to pursue discipline that have really helped me care for my body intentionally.
1 Chronicles 16:11 and Matthew 6:33 remind us to seek God first, not as a last resort but as our very first step. Prayer is one way for us to align ourselves with God and His purpose so that in communication with Him, we learn His way for us.
Before setting goals of discipline in your health, be honest with the Lord about where you are. Ask Him to show you how He can be the point of it all. As you do, ask Him for strength to help keep your eyes focused on Him and for discipline when things get hard.
As you get ready to pursue the activities required to take care of your body, recognize that discipline requires sacrifice and surrender. We have to be willing to sacrifice the things that are less important for what is more important. Until you see taking care of your body as a valuable priority, you won’t prioritize it.
For example, prioritizing a morning routine that includes time for Bible study and exercise might mean sacrificing screen time so you can get to bed earlier. Another example might be how prioritizing nourishing your body with greater intention might mean reducing how often you eat out.
No more “winging it.” When we plan and prepare for something, it shows that we are serious about it. For example, if you want to nourish your body better and more purposefully, spend 30 minutes every weekend planning your dinners for the week. One tip would be to start small by picking one meal to prepare for each day, then work your way up to more if you want to so you take the guesswork out of it. Discipline is difficult to build when the road to get there is an afterthought. Redeem the energy, time, and resources God has given you to prepare for what you want to be disciplined in.
Discipline is action. It’s time to execute what you know, prayed for, prioritized and prepared for. Colossians 3:23 reminds us that no matter what we do, we are to work at it with all our hearts for the Lord! Focus on taking one small step at a time, remembering that discipline is a muscle that takes training and action just like physical muscles.
I also highly recommend accountability here. Share your priorities with someone you trust and ask them to hold you accountable! An important element of training and discipline is allowing wise counsel to teach, challenge, encourage and call you up according to the Truth.
It’s okay to grow slow. Be careful of saying, “I am not seeing results fast enough or big enough.” Fast enough compared to who? The faster we get rid of toxic comparison the more we can patiently endure in the race we are running. Remember, God Himself is patient and does not rush. Why do we rush then? Rushed results rarely stick. When we choose the longer way paved by discipline, we can establish healthy and holy habits that are steadfast.
Can I talk about the scale here? For those that use the scale, be patient with the scale. I address the scale in several other chapters but here I feel it necessary to remind you that if you are on a weight loss journey with the Lord, oftentimes the numbers have to be shaky before they are solid. If, as you lose weight, you hit a milestone weight and then the next day are up a little again, don’t fret. That number will be a little shaky at first before it’s solid and you can work on the next goal. The good news is that when we are patient, seek the Lord and keep learning in the shaking, what remains will be unshakable.
Finally, patience also must be extended toward yourself and your weaknesses. Focus more on God’s mercies being new every morning. As I said before, discipline is not opposed to grace, so rely on His grace! We can be quick to criticize ourselves when we make a mistake or go “off plan”. The next thing we know, we are “off the wagon”. I may get a little sassy here but I want to be perfectly clear, there is no wagon. Diet culture has convinced us that if we are not on a diet wagon, we are not taking care of our body. I am here to tell you this is nonsense.
A wagon, to me, is something I hop on when I feel like it and then hop off when I don’t. A “wagon” mindset relies on motivation only. We can then make the argument that discipline can’t grow in a “wagon” mindset. Discipline requires commitment to one long journey of obedience and surrender in one direction. It’s one race. Just because you stumble, struggle, or fail doesn’t mean you left the race, because the race is not a wagon.
Friend, I know it would be much easier to convince ourselves that God doesn’t want us to be disciplined in our wellness so we can do things our way. Discipline and self control aren’t a suggestion, however, they’re a command that involves every area of our life. When we ultimately love God more than ourselves, we will love the discipline that leads us closer to Him. When we rely on God for growth in discipline more than ourselves, we will succeed more and fail less. The right motivation, purpose and grace all help fuel discipline.
Pray with me!
Father, thank you for giving me a spirit of power, love and self-discipline. I surrender to Your will and Your way for my life. Lord, I struggle when it comes to doing what I need to do. I don’t want my feelings to control me. Forgive me when I bow down to my emotions rather than Your Word and Your Truth. Help me to develop discipline in all areas of my life including my health. Your Word says that through You I can do anything. I believe that and receive it today! Amen.