Discipline Yourself

by Bo Bryson | No Comments

Jon Wooden said, “Discipline yourself so no one else has to.” I read that quote a few months back and it has stuck with me for many reasons. I find for myself I can be rather disciplined in one area of my life but in another area a vastly different story emerges. Why? I think it is because I can be quite selfish and lack the self-control at times to be disciplined. I want what I want and I want it now! That mentality prevails in our culture and in me and I desire for it not to control me. So how do I do that? Could the key lie with what Roosevelt stated, “With self-discipline most anything is possible.’ self disciplineMost anything, huh? Furthermore, for me, a formula I use for self-discipline to look like this: Self-discipline = Intentionality + Consistency + Encouragement. If I am to discipline myself, I have to be intentional & consistent with my thoughts, actions and efforts. But I also need encouragement from others; this journey is not meant to be journeyed alone. Three verses that come to mind:

(1) 2 Timothy 1:7,For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” We are not to shrink back, we are to be bold, courageous knowing who God is and who we are. He gives power to live a full life. He gives love to share freely with those we encounter. He gives the ability to be self-disciplined so we can be healthy.

(2) Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Notice the last fruit: self-control. I think that could be literally translated to ‘disciplined self.’ I find it no coincidence that love is the first fruit and self-control is the last. Nice books ends don’t ya think?

(3) Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” The great cloud of witnesses are those who encourage us to stay the course – to discipline ourselves to run the race. We need those witnesses more than we often know! And by all means, do not be afraid to ask for encouragement (aka: give people permission to hold you accountable).

Thinking of self-discipline, I need to consider not only my physical health but also my spiritual health. But I have a question for us: why do we see physical disciplines as necessary but spiritual disciplines as legalistic? Here is what I mean. Tell a person they must be disciplined to drink water, stretch, exercise or rest; they don’t blink an eye or raise an eyebrow. They may complain about it but they understand the importance of it. Tell a person they need to read their bible, fast, be still or pray and they question your motives and say you are being legalistic. Here is the truth: having self-discipline is not legalistic; it is healthy and dare I say vital to our health and well-being. Did you know that God often compares our physical health to our spiritual health? I see the practical application of this every day in my practice. Patient’s physical and spiritual health are often tied very closely together. Also, there are numerous verses that highlight this fact; I will note a few: (1) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20 (2) “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31 (3) “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Tim. 4:8.

Here is the point: self-discipline is needed to be healthy both in our physical bodies as well as our spiritual bodies. And yes, it takes intentionality, consistency and encouragement to stay the course. Whether I am speaking of physical or spiritual disciplines, I try to keep it simple but I also know the simplest things are sometimes the hardest to do. Why is that? Because it takes effort to be healthy. Un-health comes too easily. R. Nakayama stated, “Health is not a gift but something each person is responsible for through his or her own daily effort.” Daily effort = disciplining yourself! Plato put it this way, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” Be victorious! Will you fail at times and not put forth the effort? Yep. Does that mean you stop and give up? Nope.

Below, I have listed 4 basic disciplines for both the physical and spiritual life. These disciplines are not legalistic goals to check off a list but if you need a list to do them then do it until you don’t need the checklist anymore. And by doing them, they do not elevate you above others or make God love you more. It doesn’t work that way. On the contrary, disciplining yourself in these basic areas makes you healthier in mind, body and spirit. And when you are healthier, you are typically happier. And does not everyone want to be healthier and happier? D. Prager stated, “Happiness is dependent on self-discipline. We are the biggest obstacles to our own happiness. It is much easier to do battle with society and with others than to fight our own nature.” To put it simply, let’s be people who: fight the good fight…who discipline ourselves…who win the race that is set before us!



Nutrition (water & healthier food)

Read bible (included is devotionals)



Move (exercise)



Be still

Remember my formula: Self-discipline = intentionality + consistency + encouragement. Apply it to your life and let it affect not only your own health but the health of your relationships, both vertically and horizontally.  You can learn more about ‘thinking vertical…living horizontal’ here.  And lastly, ‘I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.’ (3 John 2)

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