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Success in all endeavors requires discipline

By: R. Eugene Price
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During my school days I had the privilege of being on the track team. From that experience, the one thing that stands out in my mind is the discipline of all the members of that team. Each member was on the track every day working on his particular event – running, sprinting, pole vaulting, throwing the discus or shot-put. All of this in addition to classes and studies demanded a high degree of discipline. Discipline (coming from the word disciple) is an attitude, a regimen, a way of life. Without discipline life loses purpose and direction. The words of S. R. Covey, “Highly Effective People,” are particularly pertinent: “… if you are an effective manager of your self, your discipline comes from within; it is a function of your independent will. You are a disciple, a follower, of your deep values and their source. And you have the will, the integrity, to subordinate your feelings, your impulses, your mood to those values.” (p.148) Success in any worthwhile endeavor requires discipline. First, there is the discipline of the will. The will is the point at which good and evil reside. The individual must make decisions, and the will directs one to discipline the will to do that which is right, good, elevating. The individual makes a decision to do certain things that may be helpful, fulfilling or satisfying. It might be running a business, doing daily exercises, accepting a particular assignment or changing the direction of one’s life. Such assignments require a personal decision and a discipline of the will. This calls attention to a verse in the Book of Proverbs: “The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own folly.” (5:22-23) Second is what may be called the discipline of the conscience, doing the right thing, doing what needs to be done. Paying your bills, taking care of your place of residence, driving on public roads in a safe and responsible way require the discipline of conscience. Children need discipline and rules to maintain strong emotional strength and health just as much as they need nutritional foods to maintain physical health. Parents correct, direct and discipline their children because it is the right thing to do. The child’s success in life requires that he or she is disciplined to live a successful life and participate within the family and the community. Professor of theology Paul Hoon said that “…the children of God need the discipline of the commandments for spiritual and moral health.” One of the worst things a parent can do to a child is to neglect disciplining him or her. Back in the 1960s and ’70s it became fashionable to leave the child to “find his/her own way.” After all, the reasoning went, we don’t want to impose our own personal thinking on the little one and trouble his psyche by trying to disciple him/her in our own way. But history and experience tells us that the undisciplined child most often grows up to be a disastrous and destructive adult. Third, the discipline of love is the most powerful discipline of all. The discipline of parents is both of conscience and of love. Parents discipline their children because it is needed for success in life, but most importantly, it is out of love. “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, for the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) When my parents disciplined me as a child, I knew it was because they loved me. When I corrected and disciplined my own children, it was an act of love and a concern for their well-being and success in life. Discipline is a critical part of life. Even the pigeons, pigs and peacocks show us the necessity of discipline. Whether we are running track, going to school or living according to the commands of our faith, discipline is the key to our satisfaction, joy and success in life.