Everyone possesses it. So why don’t we practice it? One simple reason: We don’t have to. In fact, research shows a majority of us are constantly pursuing the exact opposite. We are an undisciplined lot, and there are a lot of us.
In his book, “The Best Question Ever,” Andy Stanley says, “There is something out there somewhere that has the ability to get your attention.” But the truth is, until it does, most of us will keep pushing the limits, living on the edge, doing whatever we want to do – whenever we want to do it – even if it’s bad for us.
We eat too much and exercise too little. We take too many chances and make too many dangerous choices. We hang on with a death grip to habits that harm us and hinder our witness for Christ. (Read that again, slowly.) We live life as if there is no tomorrow not even considering the fact we are radically altering and permanently affecting our tomorrows by a lack of discipline today.
All of us possess death-defying discipline. But few practice it – because we don’t have to – at least not yet. Andy Stanley says, “most Americans eat so unhealthily. It’s not just a lack of discipline. Americans haven’t really faced up to the reality of what the foods they eat are doing to their bodies. How do I know? Because I’ve seen how quickly the diet changes once someone has had a brush with cancer or heart disease. Lumps, clogs, and shortness of breath force a person to face up to what he or she has refused to acknowledge for years. And the revelation leads to death-defying discipline.”
He goes on to say, “Bankruptcy can have the same effect. So can an unwanted pregnancy, a letter from your spouse’s attorney, a DUI, or a trip to detox with one of your kids. And perhaps that’s what it will take. There is something out there somewhere that has the ability to get your attention. Unfortunately, that something may scar you as well as scare you. You may be left with limited options and reduced opportunities. So why let things go that far?”1
Why? Because most people have decided to keep doing what they want to do for the time being, and only do what they have to do and ought to do when they finally have to do it. But they’re not doing it right now, thank you, at least not until they have to. That’s a colossal, and most often, very costly mistake.
Many times when we finally make the right decision and begin to do what’s right, it’s already too late. Sometimes our situations and circumstances can’t be turned around. Sometimes we let things go too far and go on too long where even the best medicines and most gifted physicians can’t help us.
You and I already possess the discipline to eat the right foods and eat the right amount. We possess the discipline to exercise daily and get back into shape. We have the ability to discipline ourselves, and control our spending, our anger, our tongue, you name it. We have the capacity and capability to be on time for work every day and be the best employee in the office. We can successfully manage our money, contribute something to savings, prepare for retirement, and be a faithful tither every week if we really want to. All of us.
It just takes discipline ... and you already possess it. You can do anything you set your heart and mind to do, anytime you want, any place you want. But you have to want to do it.
Paul told Timothy we have a God-given “spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). So why don’t we put that discipline, that death-defying, God-given discipline to work on our behalf, right now? Surely you’re not going to wait until you have to, are you?
2015 can be the absolute best year of our lives, if we decide to begin exercising that death-defying discipline we all are capable of, and we do it now.
© 2015. Barry L. Cameron
1 Andy Stanley, The Best Question Ever (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2004) 38-39.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.