At a men’s retreat I attended, we were sitting around discussing next steps; ya know, what we will do with the information we had heard and learned over the past few days. An older gentleman spoke up and said God had shown him 4 D’s. They are desire, decision, discipline, delight. He went on to explain a few things about what he thought they meant. It was very good & insightful. Since then, I am been thinking about how I could share the 4 D’s and make them applicable to not only our spiritual lives but also our physical lives. Below is my attempt to do so.
The 4D’s – how to transition from desire to delight. Everything we do, for the most part, starts with a desire. That desire leads to a decision. If that decision is thought out and planned for, it can lead to discipline. That discipline if done long enough with results seen can lead to delight. And that delight leads to lasting change. But do you see a problem here at all? Do you see where most people never reach? If not, we will get to that.
Let’s take two practical examples and apply this:
(1) Spiritual application: You have the desire to read the Bible. We all have at times. That desire leads to a decision to follow a 1-year bible reading plan. Your decision is well thought out and you plan for time in the day to do it. You become disciplined and you make it through Deuteronomy then that discipline wanes and drifts off. You miss a few days and before long you no longer have the desire. Or maybe you are super-disciplined and make it for 3-6 months but the same things happens. You shrug it off and say, next year I got this. Really?
(2) Physical application: You have the desire to get in shape. You even go as far as making it public on facebook with a new year’s resolution attached to it. Your desire to get in shape in great and it has led to a decision to not only be held accountable by your public profession of it but also you decide to join a gym. Your decision to join the gym is well thought out because you know by paying you are more likely to go and get the job done. This decision leads to a discipline you have never felt before. You get up early and feel great. You are 3 months in and seeing results. You are actually starting to enjoy it. Then you go on a week’s vacation and when you come back you miss a few workouts because of having to catch up at work. A few more workouts are missed and the enjoyment you did feel is now gone and you feel bad about not going because you are still paying a gym membership. You actually question your decision about joining the gym and the desire to get in shape starts to fade. Ever seen that scenario before?
You can apply this same scenario to many things. The result is the same. How do we go from desire to delight? You see, that is the problem. Most people never get to the delight much less have discipline to guide them. How to remedy the problem? I think the key is being realistic in our understanding of the process. For instance, pick any sport, music genre, anything – and I bet the people who are experts had a discipline long before they had a delight. Our desires and our decision must first lead us to a discipline to do things over and over even when the delight is not there. As that discipline becomes second nature (which may take countless hours), all of sudden, out of seemingly nowhere, a delight rises up that sustains – that changes – that motivates. It is the desire and decision that moves us. It is the discipline that changes us. But it is the delight that sustains and shifts us.
Now do you ever think we slip back from delight to discipline? Of course we do. This is a fluid, on-going journey. Maybe we sometimes even need to go back and check our desires to see if they still align with our current trajectory. If not, let’s realign our desires and move toward a decision. And thus the journey continues. Know this, the process of going from desire to delight, no matter how long it takes, is worth working towards.
Questions for you to ponder: What desire do you have? Where does it come from? Is there a decision that needs to be made around it? What type of discipline needs to be applied to make that desire happen? How can that discipline become delightful and sustainable? A verse to consider when thinking about your answers: ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 34:7). Maybe we should first consider what we are delighting in to begin with? Hmmmmm?
And one last point of interest: Did you know God delights in you? Well, he does! (Zeph. 3:17)