Monday, June 17, 2013

Self-Discipline and Purpose

Gary Ryan Blair

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Saint Paul – 2 Timothy 1:7

It’s 10:30 in the morning and I haven’t written one word.  I’ve been with my girls, made breakfast and picked up one of their friends so we can go to the beach later.  I ate, took out the dogs, had some coffee and a nice conversation with a friend.  I’ve also delayed, procrastinated and goofed around. 
Now it’s time to stop doing all of that and get to work.   It’s interesting how the Enemy works.  Sometimes it’s a roaring lion trying to scare me with its loud noises and sharp teeth.  This morning it almost snuck up on me like the serpent until my 7-year-old caught me on the computer looking at comic book related websites and said, “Daddy, you’re not working.”
This never, ever stops being a struggle.  Never.  I always have to fight my own worst self.  I always have to fight laziness and distraction.  And people, like my 7-year-old, can remind me of my goals, but I’m still the one who has to get started and keep going. 
Although I’m a little worried that things will be difficult, I’m excited about spending time with my daughters.  I’m looking forward to seeing if the structure I want to implement will work.  I don’t see why it won’t.  Planning and structure almost always create a better result.  As I said in my radio show, planning and structure do the following for me:
1.     They enable me to do better work.
2.     They create enthusiasm and energy.
3.     They keep me in the present moment even though I am planning something for the future.
4.     They act as buffers against emergencies and the unexpected.
5.     They allow for more spontaneity.

The last point is the most interesting for me.  Being a spontaneous person, I long harbored a secret fear that if I planned well, then my work wouldn’t be spontaneous and fun.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The more I plan, the more fun I have.  In Lean on Me, Principal Joe Clark, played by Morgan Freeman, shouts at his teachers, “Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm!”
Often the word “discipline” is used as a synonym for punishment, but that’s not the only meaning.   The root word in Latin is disciplina, which means instruction.  This is why fields of studies are called disciplines.  Discipline is learning.  It’s actually self-teaching.  When I impose self-discipline I am teaching myself the following:
1.     I can do what I set my mind on doing.
2.     I can grow in knowledge and wisdom in my selected activities.
3.     I can strengthen myself mentally and emotionally.
4.     I can apply this strength to other areas of my life including my relationships and my profession.
5.     I can increase my self-esteem.

So, every day that I move forward in my goals is a day that I move forward as a whole person.  This is the joy of self-discipline.  Consider the following quote in the most positive light, not as a form of correction, but as a ray of encouragement:
“Thoughts lead on to purpose, purpose leads on to actions, actions form habits, habits decide character, and character fixes our destiny”
Tryon Edwards, Theologian, 1809-1894

There are two bits of good news in this quote.  First, my destiny is not yet decided and second, I can choose my destiny by choosing different thoughts, actions and habits. 
So now my girls are waiting.  It’s time to Get Started and Keep Going – to the beach and with my Purpose.