I recently asked some of the people I work with what their first thought was when they heard the word discipline. They said: “accountable, responsibility, bondage, hard, and yuck.” What is your first thought when you hear the word discipline?
We all say, “ I need to become more disciplined in my life,” but why don’t we? Discipline is nothing more than developing a habit. And a habit is something you don’t even have to think about. You just do it (like brushing your teeth). God made us to be creatures of habit so we can get things done quicker. If you had to stop and think about and remind yourself by writing a note and putting it on your mirror every morning that said “brush teeth” – life would be a long, drawn-out process. We are all pretty disciplined in certain areas of our lives, we just never think about it that way. You may be disciplined in drinking coffee in the a.m., dieting, taking vitamins, or drinking Coke.
We will never see change in our lives if we constantly start and stop, start and stop. It’s like trying to lose the same 10 pounds year after year. If we don’t exercise and eat right consistently, we will never lose those pounds. Change will only come when we are consistent. But we all know that anyway. So – why do we start and stop?
Mac Hammond says that if you can do something consistently for 21 days you can break an old habit and start a new one. You develop a habit little by little. Take for example, my dad. He didn’t just all of a sudden know the Word one day. It was little by little. He began to learn the Word. You won’t just wake up one day and be disciplined in an area of your life. You develop it.
I believe the number one motivating factor behind discipline is DESIRE or DESPERATION. Desperate people will do desperate things. Are you at the place where you are desperate for change in your life? Are you tired of still going around the same mountain year after year dealing with the same issues that never go away? Discipline is the key. Consistency brings change.
So how do you develop a habit? The answer is simple. You must have a plan. A plan will keep you focused. The Bible says where there is no vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Successful people succeed on purpose. If you feel like you have no vision for your life, you need to develop a plan.
I believe that there are six basic areas we all need to have a plan for in our lives: faith, family, finances, fitness, free time, and friendships. If you can stick with your plan for 21 days you will have developed a new habit or discipline in your life.
The most important thing you need to remember when making your plan is that it must be realistic. If it’s not, you will never do it. Take for example, you want to build your faith. If you say, “I’m going to read the entire Bible through in 2006,” but you’ve not gotten through the book of Matthew over the last two years then that is an unrealistic goal and you will probably fail. So your goals must be realistic. When you are developing your plan you should ask yourself these four questions: why, how, what, when.
Start off with developing a plan for your faith. Why? Because whatever you feed the most, your faith or your flesh, will control everything else. Your faith needs to be stronger than your flesh to overcome in the other areas of your life. It takes faith to overcome debt, overeating, addictions, depression, etc. A plan for your faith might be to listen to teaching tapes each morning for 21 days. This answers all the questions. 1) Why build my faith? – for it to be stronger than my flesh. 2) How will I do this? – by hearing the Word. 3) What am I going to do to build my faith? – I am going to listen to teaching tapes. 4) When am I going to build my faith? – in the morning while I am getting ready. You can do this. You just need to push a button before you get in the shower. Now you have a realistic, measurable goal for your faith. And, after you do that for 21 days, it will become a habit, a discipline. When you become disciplined in any area of your life, you will develop confidence in yourself. You can do this!
Developing discipline begins with a plan. Start with one realistic, measurable goal and then make a plan on how you are going to obtain that goal. Next, write it down. I once heard a successful businessman say, “Goals that aren’t written down are just wishes.” That is pretty strong if you think about it. Habakkuk 2:3 says “…write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Keep your goal in front of you. If you can see it, you will be more likely to achieve it.
You can gain control of your life this year. Make a decision to develop discipline. The greatest success in your life will come in the areas where you are the most disciplined.