The difficulty I have with discipline is that not only does it take time to develop the discipline, making it a regular and natural part of your life and routine, but it takes time to see the results.
I don’t so much mind developing new disciplines. In fact, I’ve tried to add that practice to my life. I’m learning to start (and continue) new things. I find that I seem healthier on various levels merely through the existence of a disciplined life.
But waiting on the results sometimes kills me. I want the thing I’m doing to make a difference now!
The problem here is that it indicates that I only think something is worth doing if I see an immediate return on my investment. But my problem is more than just the value of immediate gratification–it’s also a lack of perseverance and endurance.
No, the reality is that the greatest effect of discipline in life is the discipline itself. Whether it produces the results I expected as quickly as I anticipated is really just a measuring tool used for consumer satisfaction. And if I started something just because somebody sold me on it, I need to develop some resistance as well.
Discipline is more than a commodity. It isn’t something that can be bought and sold. It doesn’t allow us the ease of picking it up at the drive-thru and finishing it before we arrive at our next meeting. It has to to be fostered and nurtured and practiced.
You can’t measure it’s worth based on consumer confidence or how well a certain program has worked in someone else’s life. Discipline is a repeated effort . . . on my part. You can’t do it for me. And I can’t do it for anybody else. It’s a decision that I have to make again and again and again.
Discipline is present tense.
What I did yesterday only counts for yesterday. I still have to choose to keep at it today. And I’ll have to choose to do it again tomorrow and each day after that. But I will find it easier to choose the longer I go.
Though the results are incremental, the regularity of choosing discipline sets my life on a path and trajectory of being able towards making that right choice again. And then, after having followed that path of discipline for an extended time, I may see the effectiveness exponentially greater than I could have anticipated.
The difficulty of discipline is that I must make the choice today and wait to see the lasting results at a later time. It forces me to boycott the temptation towards the immediate gratification so wired in my culture’s consumerism.
The difficulty of discipline is that it requires more of me that I generally have to give. It is a call to endure, to not give up when I am discouraged or tempted to be distracted. It requires that I root myself in a strength that is not my own. That I draw from grace.