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David Hegg: This is why discipline matters

Posted: April 7, 2013 4:27 p.m.
Updated: April 7, 2013 4:27 p.m.

Our English language has many words whose forms remain the same even though the context changes their meaning.

Think of “content,” “read,” “lie,” and “discipline” as examples. And in the case of “discipline,” the context can make the difference between something either to be prized or avoided.

To an executive or athlete, “discipline” is a virtue, while to an erring child it often means painfully being trained to act against the ways of the will. In my case, both meanings came to me in a recent wake-up call.

I recently had to admit that I needed more discipline. My doctor delivered the message that my blood work showed me to be in a pre-diabetic state. In the past, high blood pressure and high cholesterol had necessitated a regimen of drugs, but those conditions just didn’t seem to push the right buttons in my mind and I continued on with my practiced ways of eating and living. But the threat of diabetes really got my attention.

Above all I was embarrassed. In most every area of my life I prize discipline. The 24/7 demands of my pastoral duty in a large congregation, along with my teaching responsibilities at the college level mean that time is precious, and efficiency a must. I pride myself in being a good planner, scheduler, and delegator, and find that I can get more done in less time than many others as a result. I also work hard, stick to things until they’re done, and generally consider myself someone who handles a heavy workload well.

But my doctor made me realize that, in the areas of personal health, I was a lazy, undisciplined sluggard who refused to recognize the consequences of my consistently poor choices. When she threw the idea of diabetes at me, it broke through my fog.

Since the day of my medical consultation, I have lost 15 pounds. It’s a start, but certainly nothing to crow about yet.

The hardest part was admitting that part of my life was out of control. What was needed was more than a diet, and even more than some sort of goal-centered motivation. What I needed was to see that eating and exercise are not optional areas when it comes to discipline.

I haven’t started some diet plan, and I don’t have a determined weight goal. What I have decided is that I need a whole new disciplined manner of life, especially in the areas of food intake and healthy exercise. Fads don’t last.

Discipline is what is needed.

These past few weeks have been eye-opening for me. I believe that many of the problems we all face in life stem not from outside ourselves, but from our unwillingness to live disciplined lives.

Our financial problems often come as a result of an undisciplined desire to have more and more. Many of our relational problems stem from a refusal to discipline our emotions, words, and actions.

We’re tired because we’re undisciplined regarding going to bed, and we’re fat in many cases because we choose the momentary taste over the feeling of health. I’ve found that nothing tastes as good as a size 36 waist feels, and I’m hoping to get it down even further, and feel even better.

So by now you’re wondering just what the point is here. Just this. Don’t sit by and watch your life degrade. Stop telling yourself that some things don’t matter. Decide what offers you the best road ahead and get after it.

Start small if need be, but discipline yourself and stop being your own worst enemy. Put a bridle on your tongue, on your wallet and on your fork. Recognize that discipline is something you’ll never learn without some labor, a virtue you’ll never regret, and a state from which there is truly no retirement age.

And, by the way, ask me in June how my new philosophy of food intake and exercise is going.

I’m sure I’ll benefit from the accountability.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. Ethically Speaking” runs every Sunday.


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