The Dreaded D Word

That dreaded “D” word. No, I don’t mean Democrat or Donald. You people have a one-track mind. Eye roll.

I also don’t mean the “D” word as in taking a synonym for condemnation and adding “it” to the end either.

I’m talking about “Discipline”, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking of punishment of some type. Maybe it conjures up images of a belt or switch. Perhaps being grounded or sent to lunch detention. Maybe, “wait until your father gets home” did the trick. A “talking to” was usually enough for me to ensure whatever I did, I wouldn’t do again.

Discipline isn’t punishment at all. It’s part of the word “disciple”, and it’s a good thing. It should evoke positive, if maybe a bit daunting, images.

Thursday, I started a 2-year leadership training class at our church that will be intense, challenging, and very exciting! My husband just finished his training, and it made such a great impact on him and our marriage.

One of the books I’m reading for the training is The Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney. Realm Makers, if this title sounds familiar, Steve Laube recommended it in his class notes. I finished the first chapter and love this quote by Whitney, “discipline without direction is drudgery.” He goes on to tell the story about a boy who hated practicing guitar because he saw it as cutting into his playtime. We need to know the benefits of doing something before committing to the hard work.

There was another passage about how we find time to practice things we find important. It was convicting for me. I spent weeks training for a half-marathon. Last week, I wrote about reading craft books on writing. The first is an admirable goal for fitness reasons as well as endurance and perseverance. My writing is something I see as a ministry, so it’s a valid way for me to spend my time. But so is spending time with God. Praying, reading the Bible, worshiping, and practicing the other spiritual disciplines. Even more so. It’s something that’s valuable through eternity.

I’ve also been reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer with my mentor. Discipline is something where God has been growing me lately. It’s not easy, but I have to admit that I love it. One of the things Whitney mentions is that discipline offers freedom. I think that’s the opposite of what we think of when someone uses that word, but I love that perspective.

What does the word discipline mean to you?



About Gretchen E K Engel

Chemical engineer by day, spec fiction writer by night

2 comments on “The Dreaded D Word

  1. Your comments about discipline remind me of my relationship with the dreaded “B” word… budget. When my husband first introduced the idea that we should have a budget (and stick to it — gasp!), I thought it was drudgery, and restrictive.

    But as I implemented the budget and got used to it, I found there’s a lot of freedom in it. If you need something and the money is budgeted for it, you don’t have to wonder whether or not it’s okay to buy it. If there’s something you need and it’s not budgeted, you know exactly what you’ll need to do in order to make it possible (using less in other budgeted areas, etc).

    It’s “funny”, isn’t it? The Kingdom principles that the natural mind sees as limiting and restrictive are often the path to true freedom and to achieving your goals.

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