Every now and then I go on a rampage on how I just need more discipline.
I can see all kinds of areas of my life which would be more productive and effective if I did things better. I need more discipline in my work. I need to make healthier snacks. I need to spend more time in prayer. I need to jog more.
You know the drill. And this time of year, with New Year’s Resolutions just around the corner, being more disciplined is in the forefront of many of our minds.
But I also know that’s not God’s voice. God, I don’t believe, is up in heaven saying, “You should just try a little harder.” No, God is calling us to a relationship with Him.
Self-control and discipline are fruits of the spirit. We are called, for instance, to abstain from gluttony, and sexual excess, and drunkenness, and laziness. We are called to abstain from excess of any kind.
But that doesn’t mean that self-control can be the goal for our lives.
I don’t think you can pursue self-control any more than you can pursue any others of the fruits of the Spirit, like love or joy. Can you pursue joy and be joyful? No. But you can pursue God.
And I think that’s the point. The reason I sometimes feel out of whack is not because my schedule is wrong or I’m not trying hard enough. It’s because I don’t have enough time in prayer.
Look at Jesus. He was disciplined. He was effective. But He didn’t have a schedule which said that He was going to spend this much time on one thing, and then this much time on something else. You get the feeling that He didn’t have much of an agenda. Instead, He spend a lot of time in prayer, and then went where God moved.
I am not saying we shouldn’t have schedules. I think they’re necessary for many things.
What I am saying is that my problem is not so much with discipline as it is with dedication.
I need to be more dedicated to God, because I believe that if I spend more time just in prayer, I will be led more by Him. I will be able to hear His voice. I will waste less time, I will be more effective with what I do have, and I will not feel that I have wasted my day if I haven’t reached my goals, because I will know I have reached God’s goals.
Rick Warren once said that there is enough time in the day to do everything God wants you to do today, and I think that is so true. If there are too many things on your plate, and you can’t possibly get them all done, then realize that God knows that. He doesn’t want you to get them all done. But the ones He does want you to concentrate on He does give you time for.
The trick is to be able to hear His voice. And that means spending more time in prayer. I am very disciplined at blogging, and having my shower, and making my bed. I’m not disciplined at listening enough to God. I don’t want to add something else to my “to-do” list, but I don’t think prayer is actually adding to a to-do list. I think it’s subtracting. Because the more we pray, the more our priorities are clarified, and our spirit is renewed.
But prayer isn’t spending five minutes listing all the things that we need.
It has to be an interaction with God that we take some time with. I believe that God speaks the deepest when we have spent the time and energy to listen. So that’s my New Year’s goal. I’m going to pray, instead of surfing all kinds of blogs. I’m not going to be more disciplined and try harder; I’m simply going to be more dedicated to Him.
What do you think? How do you hear His voice?
And do you struggle with feeling like you should “try harder”? How do you reconcile that? Let’s get the conversation going before we make those New Year’s Resolutions this weekend!