Every semester, I choose a specific characteristic to try and become better at. You can say it’s like a new year’s resolution but instead of every year, it’s every semester. Sometimes I’ve even done the same resolution twice because of how much I have failed at becoming better at it. These characteristics are always chosen from a character of the Bible or from the fruits of the spirit.
This semester, I chose the word discipline. Being a big procrastinator, this is one of the hardest characteristics I have ever chosen. Many people, maybe even all, don’t like to practice discipline or be disciplined.
The definition of discipline is “training to ensure proper behavior.” Something that always comes into my head when I think of the word discipline is a video I saw on YouTube. Kids are put in rooms with one marshmallow placed in front of them and the instructor tells them that if they wait for them to come back without having eaten the marshmallow, they will be rewarded with an extra marshmallow. Every kid would struggle to try and not eat the marshmallow. Some just couldn’t take it anymore and would eat it. Others would nibble at it before eventually finding themselves devouring the whole thing. I remember one kid that used the plate to cover the marshmallow so that he would not be tempted to eat it. In the end however, when the instructor came back to check on the kids, only a few received the prize of an extra marshmallow while the others didn’t receive anything and would just have to remember the feeling they had when they ate theirs.
As followers of Christ, discipline is not something we want, but it is something we need. The lack of discipline is not what God intended us to have. He did not create us to be lazy, but rather created us to have self-control, one of the fruits of the spirit. A person with a disciplined behavior and lifestyle has values that can be seen not only in everything they do, but more importantly in their spiritual life.
Someone who I admire, who is disciplined every day, is my father. In everything he does, he is disciplined in doing the right thing. He is disciplined in following Jesus every day. Since I am an undisciplined person, I can clearly see the differences between our everyday life choices.
Something in particular is punctuality. I cannot remember a day in my life when my father was late to something. An example of this is when we have a flight to take somewhere. This man HAS to be at the airport, going through TSA at least two hours before our flight. Even though every time we get to the gate with like ten years to spare and nothing to do, he doesn’t change. I on the other hand, have been late to so many things. Whether it be going to certain meetings or replying back to someone’s SMS text messages and calls, I will most likely be late to all of them. That is even something I am known for when my name comes up! Ridiculous.
This character of discipline that my father strongly follows is something I see every day. Because of this, it motivates me to want to have that same discipline in my life. The positive change of being disciplined can be seen not only in his work and home, but I can definitely see it in his spiritual life as well. Being disciplined causes us to make better choices in life. It causes us to follow the plan that God has for us. We take time to listen to what He has to say. We are comforted when hardships come because we are disciplined to read His word and remember the promises he has fulfilled. When temptations come our way, we are disciplined to turn the other way. An example of someone like this is the story of Joseph that can be found at the end of the book of Genesis.
As I start this journey of trying to become more disciplined, I know it is not going to be easy, especially for someone like me. I believe however that it is a characteristic that will help me become closer to Him and more like Him. Jesus was disciplined. The purpose of Him coming down to earth was to live a life of example and die for our sins and he did just that.
Maybe you have realized you need to more disciplined in your life, or more specifically your spiritual life. If you are, then I want to encourage you to start this “resolution” with me. Maybe you feel like you are already pretty disciplined. Then I encourage you to choose another resolution that will better you to become more like Him. And may we one day be able to say the words found in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
Alex Castillo is a graduate of Southern Adventist University and is currently applying to dental school.