10 Jan Developing Discipline and Diligence in Your Life
“Know you not that which run a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
The Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of an athlete to describe the discipline needed in the Christian race. He advises that we should be temperate in all things and bring the body under control. These all call for discipline. There are rules that govern how athletes perform their sports and the rules differ from sport to sport.
Discipline can be defined as the mental readiness to do what is needed to accomplish desired or expected results. We subject ourselves to the discipline needed to accomplish whatever we set out to accomplish. Professional athletes prepare well in advance for any competition. They regulate their feeding, their exercises, developing strengths where needed, and their sleep or relaxation is aimed at producing the best possible results.
In 2 Timothy 2:3-7, Paul teaches us that we can be likened also to being a soldier in the Lord’s Army: we need battle readiness at all times; we are similar to farmers: we need to know times and seasons and cultivate planting right seeds at the right seasons of life. God’s Word is the seed but our thoughts, words and actions are seeds too.
All three professions call us to a life of discipline: a readiness to do whatever is needed to accomplish desired results.
Right next to discipline we need another word: DILIGENCE. This has to do with an earnestness to do; the inception, progression and completion of a task. This is the effort steadily applied. It can be called hard work, intelligently directed. It is the opposite of slothfulness or laziness. Diligence emphasizes the effort applied while discipline emphasizes the mental readiness to do what is needed. The effort needs planning, progressing through and taking all necessary actions. Discipline is the quality we develop as we embark on a diligent lifestyle.
Scriptures abound with various exhortations to be diligent. The hand of the diligent makes rich as seen in Proverbs 10:4. The thoughts of the diligent tend to abundance. (Proverbs 21:5). My favourite verse on this subject is in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Your heart’s content determines many things in your life. You are encouraged to keep it with all diligence. What you allow into your heart will determine to a large extent the outcomes of your life. Your words, thoughts and whatever inputs you allow, either through entertainment or relationships, all go to affect your heart. Keep the incoming influences and you will have outcomes that are favourable. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks! Whatever is in the mouth is written on the heart. Your tongue is like a pen of a ready writer, writing whatever you say on your heart. It takes diligence: paying attention to details; to keep your heart.
So from our personal prayer life to our relationships, all up to how successful we become in fulfilling God’s will for our lives, we need to develop discipline and diligence to maximize our potentials, fulfil our destinies in God and see to His influence reaching out to others through a kingdom lifestyle.
HOW DO WE DEVELOP THESE QUALITIES?
- Give God’s Word a final place of authority in your life.
- Study, meditate, and memorize God’s word for daily application. See Joshua 1:8.
- Be a person of prayer. See John 15:7. The abiding Word is the word that we act upon. See Mark 11:24. In everything by prayer. Philippians 4:6.
- Embrace a life of hard work. Be prepared to apply God’s wisdom to build the future God has for you. Your participation is needed for God’s will to be done in your life. Love not sleep and be prepared to suffer in the flesh as seen in 1 Peter4:1.
- Cultivate intimacy with God. Be a worshipper and a witness for God in your area of influence. Allow grace to adjust areas of your life you need adjustment. Give God the glory for every good thing accomplished in your life.
- Be a blessing to others.