Christian Discipline for Effective Living

Image of Augustus Henry
Inspiration from New Creation Ministry —
By Augustus Henry (PhD.)

I recently learned of a couple, the husband a lawyer, and the wife a doctor, who wanted to transfer their son to a last chance school. Both spoke in glowing terms and admiration for their parents who had raised them to be successful through strict discipline. However, when ask how their growing-up experience influence raising their current children, the reply was, we do not impose strict rules on our children.  However, understand that the reason these well-off parents were trying to enrol their son in a last-chance school in a poor neighbourhood, is because no school would accept him because of his criminal history. They deprived their children of the very thing that ensured their success – discipline.  Even so, some of us as Christians deprive ourselves of that same process in our walk with God.

Discipline: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character (Webster).

If we are meticulous, practical and discipline about our day-today Christian lives, that will show in every area of our existence. And the extent to which we are successful in our spiritual lives will also extend to the social and physical. In this sermon and the next two that follows, I will address the way we become effective Christians through discipline.

Christian discipline requires patience.
The Bible says: For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruits of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12: 11 ESV.). That is a process educator’s use to ensure student achievement.

Successful teachers know that their hard work is done during the first two weeks of school. That is when they go through the gruesome task of training students in classroom expectations, teaching classroom rules, teaching respect and good manners, and that is the time students resist the most. Other teachers vacillate between different approaches and varying rules, sometimes doubting processes they have seen work before. They are inconsistent with behavioural expectations. Those are the teachers who struggle to control their classrooms the most. The teachers who are patient enough to persistently re-enforce good behaviour and wait for positive results at the end of two weeks, are the ones who make teaching a breeze. Yes, we must acknowledge that discipline is a hard thing, but if we spend time with it, it returns great dividends.

Christian discipline requires intentional planning.
John Ortberg, says “you arrange your days so that you are experiencing deep contentment, joy and confidence in your everyday life with God.” Some of us are such pliant Christians, we become classic episodes of the tail wagging the dog, instead of the dog wagging its tail. When we fail to arrange our days, or run a discipline lifestyle, we become as a ship without a rudder.

In such cases, it becomes easy for anybody to steal our joy – put a frown on our face – put a bad taste in our mouths – people can make you tired without you moving a muscle – when they control your day.  People jeopardize our peace. In that way, we drive other peoples’ goals, agendas, and success instead of ours. When we fail to arrange our day, we don’t know whose or which schedule we are following.  But, effective Christians do not come about by chance. There is planning, strategy and effort that goes into this. The Christian who does not have strategies for spiritual success, is planning to fail. Effectual spirituality requires discipline and consistency. And as the bible says it will yield good results.

Christian discipline requires regular, positive habits.
Habits of successful people:
Plan their day; spend at least 30 minutes a day gaining new knowledge; spend 15 minutes in isolation daily; spend time with people who inspire them. Those are daily habits that drive the achievements of people such as Elon Musk. They do this to obtain corruptible crowns! What about those of us who are in this game for an incorruptible crown? What if we used 30 minutes every day gaining new knowledge about God and his expectations of us through his word? What about having spiritual conversation daily with other Christians who inspire Christian growth? What would happen if we used 15 minutes daily to spend time alone with God? Oh, how powerful and successful we can become.

What if we did like Jesus?

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). What If we followed his pattern?

1. Wake up before the sun rises

2. Went somewhere to be with God alone

The Christian who practices those habits. Like most successful people, are fortified in the lord.
However, it takes time to follow new ways of living like this. It takes time for it to take root in us, or for us to internalize. Like the students during opening days of a brand-new school year, it is hard to acquire new behaviours. It is even more difficult to attain new habits that contravene old ones. So, we need to set effective strategies to get it right.

The Routines for Christian discipline.
So, how do we become discipline Christians? It is through repetition.  It is doing the little things over and over again. Practicing good behaviour repeatedly. Each morning you wake up, have some specific good that you do repeatedly.  Daniel developed a routine of praying 3 times a day, and that was so engrained in him that he practiced it in the face of his own death. Jesus made it his custom to go to the synagogue to teach and to pray daily (Luke 4:15-33). He said, “I say nothing of my own, but say only what my father taught me” (John 8:28). Therefore, he was in persistent communication with his dad. So effective Christians discipline themselves through wholesome and regular routines that show in their devotion to God.

Will Smith in Ali:
He reportedly spent more than a year preparing to play Muhammad Ali by boxing for hours a day, studying Islam, working with dialect coaches, and labouring to put on the requisite weight so he resembled the legendary heavyweight. He did all that so he can walk like Ali, talk like Ali, and move like Ali. What if we studied Jesus with that intensity and discipline?

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