The Latin root of discipline is disciplina meaning teaching or instruction, but disciplina is derived from the Latin word discipulus which gives us the English word disciple. You cannot arrive at disciplina without discipulus, just as you cannot be a disciple without discipline.
Let me try to explain myself in English. In college, I lived a pretty strict life of discipline. As a division one swimmer, most of my decisions came back to the question of what would make me faster in the pool. What I ate, how and how often I trained, when I slept, and even the classes I took were all decisions I made based on wanting to be a better swimmer. And for the most point, I made those decisions out of discipline.
Sure, I wanted a Coke at lunch, but my nutritionist said I probably shouldn’t, and so I didn’t. I don’t think I ever wanted to do wall-sits or plate pushes or pull-ups in the weight room before we headed to the pool for practice, but I did it anyways. After we swam, I really hated going to the training room to get my ankle, hip, or wrist wrapped in ice before I trudged through the South Bend snow to the dining hall for dinner, but I stopped there everyday after practice faithfully. All because of discipline.
I started to notice after our eight-day that I haven’t been living a very disciplined life this year. I get to the chapel at 7…ish for the earlier holy hour on Wednesday and Friday mornings. I work out three times a week… once a month and only if someone else really encourages me. My roommate pointed out that I never, ever make my bed. I have six blogs started and haven’t posted a single one since December!
I’ve been trying to become a disciple of Christ without any discipline. Well, Lizzie, what does making your bed have to do with following Christ? More than you think!
If I can practice laying down my own desires in little things, like making my bed, getting up early, and using my body to glorify the gifts God has given me, how much easier will it be to practice discipline in big things: like following God’s will for my vocation or like loving my community when it may not be what I want to do at the moment. When God asks me to make a decision that requires discipline, will I have any practice in it?
In Psalm 50, God says to the wicked, “You hate discipline, and you cast my words behind your back” (Ps 50:17). The true disciples of Jesus practiced discipline not because they were afraid of punishment, but because they loved Jesus. As I accept the need for discipline in my life, I do so with the hope of growing closer to Christ. May all our disciplines transform us into faithful disciples of Jesus.