Ed young posted this tweet this morning “Discipline is doing what you have to do so you can then do what you want to do.”
Simple and profound yet extremely difficult.
I have two girls, 8 and 10 years old, and they are wonderful. I love them more than life. However, they can frustrate me like no one else. (Don’t look at me that way, if you’re a parent you know it is true.) Part of my responsibility is to train them to be productive in life that they may live up to the potential God has given them. That means teaching them to do what needs to be done, even if they don’t feel like it.
Parents, see if this scenario is familiar. I ask one of my girls to clean a room or pick something up. The response I get is that she didn’t make the mess and doesn’t want to. My reply is to guilt them into it by reminding her all the things her mother and I do for her. Actually, most of the time I do try and help them see that we have to do things in life, just because it is a part of life.
Last night, it played out this way. My youngest wanted to have a friend over after school today. Her room and the basement were both less than tidy. She was told to clean them. It was easy for her to grasp the reward part of the task and so she bounded off to clean with no fuss. That is not normal by any stretch. The difference was she understood and could sense the immediate result of doing what she had to in order to get to do what she wanted.
Yet, much of life is not that way. Too often we choose the immediate want over the long term need. One easy example is in the way we eat. Too often we grab the quick burger and fries chased by ice cream rather than eating a properly healthy meal. Then we complain about the expanding waistline and the fact that we get winded climbing the stairs. If we would be disciplined and eat right most of the time and exercise regularly, then we could eat the junk once in a while and be much more active in life.
In our jobs, we do what must be done so we can do what we want later. We work and earn a living so we can afford the trips and leisure activities and so we can support missions and live generously.
For my daughter who doesn’t like school so much, it is hard to understand that she has to go to school and it is important to go even when she doesn’t want to. Of course, we understand the reason she must go and what the reward will be later.
One thing I have found to be absolutely true, if I live disciplined (spiritually, relationally, physically) and do what I need to do, then what I want to do does change and begin to line up more with God’s wants and purposes and with what is good for me and not just what pleases me.
By the way, Paul wrote about this pretty extensively in Romans 7. While he directly references sin, I’m not sure there is much difference to how it plays out in every area of our life. Plus, being irresponsible and not living up to our potential in God is sin.
What is it you need to do today that you are putting off because you want to do something else?