“... be transformed by the renewing of your minds...”
—Romans 12:2 (NRSV)
The secret to the passage of discipleship in following Jesus could be distilled to one word: discipline. From discipline comes motivation for surrender, for learning, and the capacity to endure long enough, and to try often enough, to obey the Spirit. Discipline is the sign of operant devotion.
But what is discipline about? In this context it is about self-discipline.
Being that self-discipline will be a mystery to some or many of us, we need to understand how self-discipline emerges and how it is propped up. The answer is astoundingly simple. Self-discipline is about our thinking processes. To become disciplined thinkers requires sound and reasonable thinking. Such thinking we use to create standards. When we have agreed with ourselves on these sound and reasonable standards our self-discipline will ensure we don’t compromise, especially upon a weaker moment of potential compromise to those standards.
Five ways of disciplined thinking—T.H.I.N.K.:
Think safe and sound thoughts as much as possible. This is, of itself, a discipline; a habit to get into. When we think sound thoughts the world lies in true perspective. We see things as they generally are. We are more present in the moment. And, as a result, we are set up to think more sound thoughts. Sound thinking creates its own healthy inertia.
Help the cause in small ways and counts small wins. Whenever a new discipline gets under way there is always a threat to it sooner or later. It takes a while for our confidence to increase, but we also have the problem of complacency. It’s hard to stay motivated, but when small things are noticed our motivation benefits. Small things make big differences when our thinking is right.
Imagine threats to self-discipline and be ready for them. There are particular circumstances that will predispose us to failure; and our thinking enters compromise. Understanding what these are, and how they come about, and planning for them, is a key. Seeing all our circumstances as potential tests is a good way to remain on guard.
Negotiate options to use as much bounded space as we can. One of the problems with self-discipline is we can feel limited. There is more freedom within self-discipline than we realise. It’s important we get creative. There are many positive options available to us when we are prepared to innovate.
Kick small indiscretions out of our minds and stay on track. One of the reasons we become undisciplined is our resolve is tested and weakened. Because we are not perfect, small indiscretions will occur. Our self-discipline must cater for these as we get back on track. Rebounding well, and not giving up, is perhaps the biggest test of our self-discipline.
The secret behind achieving our goals is self-discipline and that relies upon sound thinking. When our thinking is disciplined we prove our faith and we can achieve a great deal.
When we sidestep compromise, not conforming to the world, we allow God’s Spirit to renew our minds and our disciplined thinking means our goals are achievable.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.