This post is by Amy Mykytiuk.
Discipline, as it pertains to disciplining one’s self, may conjure fear in some of us. I was an adult, in Bible college before I understood that the Christian life is a life of discipline. If it didn’t come easy to me, I gave up.
As a college student studying religion with plans to enter full-time ministry, I was required to read Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster. It was at this point in my life that I realized the Christian life required so much more of me than just what came easy and naturally; it required a daily submission to God’s will for my life, a commitment to carry out His will, and a choice to discipline myself to act upon it.
Too often, I rely on motivation for my time with God, but motivation fails every time, and my flesh takes over. I eat what my flesh wants, not what my body needs. I go to sleep and wake up when my flesh desires, or avoid exercise and embrace laziness. My excuse becomes, I just don’t feel motivated today.
My friend and personal trainer sent me some encouragement. “No motivation? Get up. Pack your gym bag. Drink some caffeine. Get to the gym. Ten minutes in you will thank yourself. Motivation doesn’t exist. You have to show up if you want it.” She also tells me, “Your goals have to be bigger than whatever is immediately in front of you.”
As I discipline my body to be healthy, I have learned much about my spiritual walk as well. I have a goal to know Jesus more and more, but unless I discipline myself to get up and do it, regardless of how I feel, I will never reach my goals. Motivation is found in the midst of doing, not “at the bottom of a cookie bag” as my husband says. He likes to quote Yoda; “Try not. Do.”
Motivation is unreliable and even more importantly, inconsistent. It cannot be where one places the dependence for discipline. Discipline must be a consistent daily choice, regardless of motivation. If you want to be motivated to read your Bible, pick it up and read it. Ten minutes later you will be glad you did.
My dad’s best advice to me as a young woman was to look for a man that was consistent. A consistent person is dependable and disciplined, not easily tossed by the troubles in this world. A consistent and disciplined person will choose their marriage, even when in the hard times. They will choose integrity, even when tempted. They will make the same choice regardless of the circumstances, and that is an important quality to have in a husband.
I ask myself, when it concerns my time with God, just as my trainer asks me if my health goals are bigger than my chips and queso, are my goals to know Jesus big enough to discipline myself? Or is knowing the latest trends on the internet, the latest reality TV star, the sporting event of the year, a few more minutes of sleep, or whatever else may threaten to take away my time with God and leave me poor in spirit, my priority over Him?
Motivation is not dependable, and if I am waiting on motivation to crack open my Bible or bring me to my knees, I will be waiting forever and thus become vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. However, a consistent, disciplined prayer life and time with God, regardless of my circumstances, will always carry me through.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” James 1:22-25
Amy works as a ministry assistant to her husband, Jay, a pastor in Southwest Kansas. As a mother of one adult, three moody teenagers, and an adorable 9 year old, she spends her mornings homeschooling before heading to the church office. Her evenings are filled with dinner preparations and bossing the pastor before enjoying her three glorious minutes of free time at the gym or on a run. Amy is the author of Send Help.. and Coffee: A Shot of Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. As a graduate of Wayland Baptist University, she has been writing and editing off and on in one capacity or another for twenty years. However, sharing her testimony with youth groups, women’s groups, or anyone that will listen, is her passion in life. You can find her latest musings at www.aftertherain407.home.blog.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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