How to Build Self-Discipline

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“We will never get anywhere in life without discipline, be it in the arts, business, athletics, or academics. This is doubly so in spiritual matters.” – R. Kent Hughes

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly;  I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” – 1 Cor 9:24-27

Paul trained for his daily spiritual journey like a world-class athlete. Why? Because he wanted to have the self-control to finish the race without being disqualified.

A Servant Leader’s goal should always involve building community, however for the leaders influence to be effective it has to be around building a community, adopting a culture of freedom and responsibility and this can only occur through disciplined people.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says: “The good-to-great companies built a consistent system with clear constraints, but they also gave people freedom and responsibility within the framework of that system.  They hired self-disciplined people who didn’t need to be managed, and then managed the system, not the people.”

What makes a Church different from that of a business is that with a business they can choose to only hire people that are self-disciplined in the first place. Whereas in Church we are called to bring everyone in as they are. So though in church we should never try to only look for self-disciplined people.  As disciples of Jesus, we are called to be self-disciplined as part of our faith.  The irony of this means that if we were fulfilling our calling in Christ, then we should be some of the most disciplined people on the face of the planet.  – This was how the 1st Century Christians turned the world upside down.

Self-Discipline is needed to stretch us beyond our own comfort zones and areas of personal inertia. For some the need for discipline will be more in the realm of the emotions, for others it would be the will or mind.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7

The source for self-discipline is God’s power.

Self-Discipline may be defined simply as that quality that allows a person to do what needs to be done when he or she doesn’t feel like doing it.

Example of the proverbs 31 woman is a great example of self-discipline. Prov 31:10-31

No matter how gifted a leader is, his/her gifts will never reach his/her maximum potential without the application of self-discipline.  It positions a leader to go to the highest level and is a key to leadership that lasts.


How to Become More Self-Disciplined

When deciding to become more self-disciplined, don’t try to take on the world in one go at the beginning, this would only set you up for failure. The way to go about it is to have success in the little things as this would boost your confidence. Then you can move on to more challenging tasks.

1. Knowing Where Your Time Is Going

The first step to being disciplined is to know where you are spending your time – Spending time is spending life – Moses prayed in his Psalm that  God should “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”  and it is impossible to manage what isn’t being measured.

Keep a detailed record of what you do every 15 min. From the moment you wake up to when you go to bed. Do this for at least two weeks.

2. Identify your excuses

Below are common excuses we tell ourselves that prevent us from being disciplined

  • I have a cold so I’ll take it easy today
  • I don’t feel very inspired today – I need a change
  • I am overwhelmed and feeling stressed
  • I can’t get my work done in 8 hours
  • I don’t have the time to eat healthy, Exercise and to spend ample time with family
  • I can’t save money and my spending habits are out of control
  • I have a hard time keeping my commitments
  • I have too many personal problems to worry about my goals right now
  • I am always late for appointments
  • I’m a businessman and travel a lot, therefore I don’t have time to exercise and eat right especially when I’m travelling overseas
  • I can’t do it
  • I can’t motivate myself to consistently exercise
  • There are so many stressful events in my life right now that can’t handle anything more right now

3. Develop a plan:

What is your current daily routine like?

What are your regular obstacles and areas of weakness?

What are your goals?

What is your back up plan?

What are your priorities?

What is your new daily routine?

You need to be on top of your days rather than your days being on top of you.

How are you developing in your self-discipline? Comment below and share with others.