Discipline, The Flagship Virtue

Okay, today we’re going to deal with the subject that many don’t like to think about, but most of us need to work on. 


Wait! Wait!

Before you close this and move on, discipline yourself for five minutes and keep reading. You can do this.

In some quarters the subject of discipline is treated with loathing and disdain and is suspect of flying in the face of the gospel!

Yet scripture is explicitly clear on the subject:

 In the quintessential passage on leadership, I Timothy 3, verse 2 we find the words self-control.

In the second most referenced chapter on leadership, Titus 1, we read: “He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”

Much of this screams discipline!

“In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets first prize. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best.  An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around. Like an athlete, I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.” I Corinthians 9:24-27 (The Living Bible) Emphasis added.

“The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.” Proverb 10:17 (The Message) Emphasis added.

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced of the need for discipline in the leader’s life. In actuality, the road to anything and anywhere of significance is paved with the asphalt of discipline. Any leader trying to pursue anything will need to learn discipline in:

Money, Emotions, Exercise, Time, Eyes, Ears, Eating and Speech

You can add a few of your own to this list

My former co-worker once said:

“Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you have to share it.”

I thought long and hard on that and then added this for myself: Just because I have an emotion doesn’t mean I need to show it. Both of these have to do with the discipline of my tongue and of my emotions.

How many leaders have you known, read about, or heard about who disqualified themselves over the lack of self-discipline? How many leaders have fallen well short of their potential in making a significant contribution over the lack of self-discipline?

How many leaders in their 40s or 50s are in such poor health due to the lack of self-discipline that they are not able to continue to minister with energy, joy and enthusiasm? And yet we are clearly and categorically told that one of the qualifications for leadership is self-control and discipline. We ignore this clear admonition at our own peril.

Look again at the list above. 

How about picking just one of these and making it a focus and priority for the next six months? In what area do you desire and need God’s grace?

Don’t think in terms of perfection but of progress through the enabling of the Holy Spirit and a few good friends to hold your feet to the fire.

Set some goals. Make yourself accountable. Memorize some passages of scripture. Depend on the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit. Pray focused and regularly about this one area. Watch what God does!