Can You Relate?
"I'm so frustrated with myself. I can't seem to break this old habit and be disciplined. I'm tempted to just give up."
Perhaps you can relate with those words. I have found myself saying those things (and things like them) on multiple occasions when I failed at my attempt to be disciplined in a certain area of life. So the question is why do we fail when we attempt new disciplines? Rather it's working out, dieting, reading our Bibles more, having a consistent prayer life, etc. there seems to be a wall we hit as we try to discipline ourselves in these areas. And once we hit that wall, we quit. We feel frustrated, helpless, and discouraged.
Because as my friend Dr. Don Whitney says, "Discipline without direction is drudgery."
Discipline without direction is drudgery.
What he means is this: If you commit to discipline yourself in an area of life without any goal (direction) in mind, the discipline will seem pointless, aimless, and will ultimately end in failure. So what is the remedy?
Give your discipline a direction.
A sailboat will only go in the direction that it's sails are pointing towards. In the same way, your discipline will only go as far as you're willing to direct it. So, how do you do this well?
Three Ways To Give Your Discipline Direction
1. Set a goal.
It sounds simple, but yet it is often overlooked by those looking to develop new disciplines in their lives. Sit down and write out what you want your discipline to end in. If you are dieting, you might write down 'losing X amount of pounds and have a habit of healthy eating.' If you are wanting to read your Bible more, you might write down 'reading through the X Bible plan and getting in the habit of reading my Bible everyday.' Whatever it is, you need a goal. So set one.
2. Get help.
Our culture is individualistic to the point that no one likes humbling themselves to ask others for help and accountability. If you want to give your discipline direction, you must do this. Wanting to consistently pray more? Have someone do it with you and check up on you on the days you go at it by yourself. Wanting to spend more time at the gym? Why not invite some friends to join you in a workout plan? Get help from others to give direction to your discipline.
Failure is not final. Failure is simply a door for you to walk through to try again.
3. Don't give up.
I can't begin to tell you all of the times I have heard people give up on new disciplines because they failed once. Failure is not final. Failure is simply a door for you to walk through to try again. Proverbs 24:16 says, "the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes." Don't give up. Keep trying.
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.