Beating sloth and eight other thoughts on discipline.


If you love sleep, you will end in poverty. Keep your eyes open, and there will be plenty to eat! Proverbs 20:13

1. Discipline harnesses your capacity to focus in order to bring about a sustained change.

2. Discipline about the “right” things in life is as important as having the capacity to focus.

3. You can’t be disciplined about everything at once in life at the same time; so discipline multiplies itself through the creation of habits; habits are disciplines and systems built into your life or organization over time. Disciplined people have lots of “good” habits.

4. Discipline is the capacity to delay gratification in order to achieve greater success. (Bill Hybels)

5. Excellent people with sustained discipline tap into deep wells of reverence for what matters most in life.

6. Reverence beats sloth’s reluctance to embrace pain associated with discipline and brings honour and love to our relationship with God, self, people, and the stuff of earth.

7. Disciplined people decide ahead of time on how to use their focus, time, and resources in order to advance an area of their lives. They “research” best practices and experiment along the way.

8. Discipline in some areas of life will mean you disappoint people for a time because you will be unavailable for everything. Discipline is a kind of purposed and selected neglect. Wisdom required!

9. Discipline at its best accepts scarcity for a time in order to tap into the abundance of God’s provision.


You, Success, & Exams

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

~ John Wooden, English teacher and basketball coach.  Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success  

John Wooden moved success from the realm of comparison with others to a kind of self-awareness or knowledge regarding the effort you have exerted.  Through the application of his view, Wooden became one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history.  He coached teams to ten national basketball championships.

Grades are a product of comparison.  While they are important for some moments and opportunities in life, they have a short shelf life.  Your character will last much longer and will go with you far beyond your university years.  Pursuing your studies for the grade is short-sighted.  Jesus Christ called for a longer view of life when He said, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”  (Matthew 16:26 NLT)

You have to be secure.

John Wooden’s definition of success and Jesus’ long-view of life requires an incredible sense of security.  Security is a product of assurance in relationships.  As Wooden grew as a coach, he sought to give a sense of security to his teams by assuring them that he wasn’t looking for wins; he really was looking for them to give their best effort on and off the court.

Assurance of God’s love for you can become a constant in your life.  At Origin, Born for More, we believe Jesus came to show God’s love for us as a reality that we can daily experience.  His love, demonstrated through the Gospel of Jesus, creates lasting security.  In His love, we don’t need to compare ourselves to another.

Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”  Jesus lived the life of “the beloved” and now invites us to live the same by receiving His love poured out for us through His death on the Cross.  God’s love becomes a constant that makes comparison less powerful and ruling.  Responding to His grace and love doesn’t destroy ambition as some might accuse.  Rather, by trusting in God’s love for you through Jesus, you will possess a security that empowers you to keep growing, keep learning, and actually risk becoming the person God created you to be, no matter “the grade.”

You were made to be loved.

We do hope you succeed on your exams.  But more than that, we hope you will experience God’s love in Christ Jesus as the constant that gives security and shapes your life.

(I wrote this article for our exam care packages that we are delivering this week at UBC.)

redemptive stories and success

I am reading the Summer 2008 publication Perspectives on Language and Literacy of The International Dyslexia Association.  This issue is dedicated to stories of people who have struggled with dyslexia and how they grew through the struggle to achieve success.  I love what Michael Ryan has to say about redemptive narratives from D. P. McAdams’ perspective.  I believe both Ryan and McAdam’s observations have implications for how we each meet God through the Gospel narrative and actually become part of the story of Jesus’ kingdom.  Ryan writes:

McAdams is this country’s preeminent researcher in the area of personal narratives.  He believes that personal narratives (the stories we tell about our lives) are critical to our self-image and our ability to function as successful adults.  He has studied the personal narratives of thousands of individuals and found that the most socially minded people in our society share common themes in their personal narratives.  He labels these themes, “the Redemptive Self.”  These stories of redemption are not necessarily religious in nature, but their essential theme involves overcoming a struggle or a tragedy and growing from it.  McAdams asserts that much of these individuals’ successes are due to these redemptive narratives.  In fact, he goes as far as to suggest that part of our success as a nation grows out of the fact that we have, as a group, many redemptive narratives, such as taming the wilderness and overcoming discrimination and segregation.

It seems to me that one of the major tasks of discipleship is to help people retell the story of Jesus and also tell how their intersection with Him has helped them overcome the world.  They now live His-Story.

“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God… This is love for God: to obey his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  1 John 5:1,3-5 (NIV)