Four steps to self-discipline. They are principles that help create a structured lifestyle. And this leads to positive habits and routines that benefit every area of your life.
Four steps to self-discipline involve making one-time decisions
When I was a young seminary student, the pastor of the church I attended frequently encouraged us with these words: “Learn to make one-time decisions.” In other words, make a decision about a regular routine or habit you want to maintain and stick with it. He often used career as an example. Few people wake up on Monday morning and decide if they will go to work. Why? Because it’s one decision they’ve already made. This simple principle can be applied to many areas of your life.
And now, over three decades later, I can say this principle works. I’ve successfully applied one-time decisions in disciplines that have benefited me physically, spiritually and vocationally among others. It’s a simple, yet powerful formula that provides multiple benefits.
Four steps to self-discipline involve taking small steps rather than big steps
This last year I watched a miracle take place. A friend of mind lost 125 pounds by implementing two simple steps of self-discipline.
- Intentionally changing her diet
- Routine exercise that included weight lifting
She will also tell you her faith and the power of God were a huge part of the victory. Because her journey was not just a physical battle but a spiritual one too.
The point here, however, is that she made incremental changes. Small, slow, but steadily over time. Big changes at once are harder to maintain. But gradual, little changes, smoothly integrate into a new lifestyle.
Four steps to self-discipline involve eliminating old things by adding new things
I enjoy eating cold cereal. And for years, consumed large, multiple bowls of popular brands every morning. But when I reached midlife, I began to feel and see the effect on my physique and alertness during the day. And decided high level physical and mental functioning required premium fuel in my body.
But quitting cold turkey was not a good approach. So rather than eliminate it, I replaced it slowly. I started by reducing the number of bowls and replacing it with fruit. And then replacing some days of cereal with eggs and bacon or oatmeal. And eventually reached a point of eating cereal a few times a month. What? You didn’t think I was going to eliminate the breakfast of champions completely did you?
The point is, don’t think in negative terms of what you must quit. But think in positive terms of replacing it with something better.
Self-discipline involves leaning on the power of God
You have an individual will. And self-discipline requires exercising that will. But I reject the claim you have a power within. Because as a Christ-follower, the power that fills me is the presence of the Almighty God.
It’s a counter cultural approach. And begins by recognizing your human weakness rather than your inner strength. Your dependence on God rather than self-reliance. Your sin rather than your virtue. And the presence and power of God is available to all who respond to and follow Jesus Christ.
So, I unapologetically lean on God for strength. Because he faithfully demonstrates his strength in my weakness. And for that I give him the glory.