The Whole Woman: Discipline
I have a confession to make. I am not the most disciplined person. I struggle with late night munchies, keeping the house clean, and staying on top of my devotionals. This Lent season, I want to be more disciplined. Today is the start of the Lent season, Ash Wednesday. Here’s some facts to help you better understand Lent.
What is Lent?
Lent is the period of 40 days leading up to Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent ends on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday). There are 3 main focuses of the season:
1) to reflect upon your sins and your need for a Savior (Romans 6:23),
2) to renew your commitment to Christ, dying to self daily, often done through prayer, self-examination, and fasting (Luke 9:23), and
3) to remember that Christ conquered sin and death (Romans 8:1-4).*
Who should celebrate Lent?
Traditionally associated with the Roman Catholic Church, Lent is a season worth following or at least understanding in the Protestant denominations. Scripture doesn’t mandate or mention either of these terms, but the practice of regular prayer, repentance, mourning in ashes, and fasting is mentioned.
How can we celebrate Lent?
Lent is celebrated or observed in a variety of different ways from “fasting” from a specific item, to placing ashes on one’s forehead as a reminder of your sinful state and your need for a Savior, to devoting oneself to prayer or meditation in an effort to grow closer to God. Lent is also the perfect season to practice discipline.
Why is discipline important for self-care?
- Discipline allows you to build your character. You can’t expect to learn how to play the piano, to break a bad habit, or to transform into the likeness of Christ in a day. These things takes time, patience, and effort. When you are disciplined, you are equipped with the tools to begin your journey toward achieving your goals. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained.“
- Discipline equips you to withstand temptation. Jesus gives us the tools to be disciplined in Matthew 26:41: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Watch – be aware, look out, plan ahead. Pray – dialogue with God.
- Discipline instills in you greater self-awareness. Discipline makes you aware of your weaknesses and strengths, and this awareness makes the process of setting and reaching goals easier. When you know what will trip you up, you can plan ahead by setting up boundaries, accountability, and rewards to greater motivate you. You also avoid disappointment due to unrealistic expectations.
- Discipline offers better time management. Discipline allows you to increase productivity, to avoid hang-ups and hiccups along the way, and to better achieve your goals in a timely manner.
- Discipline unveils God’s character. To exercise godly discipline, you must first know the Gospel, believe its message, and live out its truth. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Staying deep in God’s Word will equip you with better understanding of who God is, what God has done, who He has created you to be, and how to grow into His likeness.
This Week’s Lent Exercise: Discipline Yourself
Pick one of the following ideas to incorporate into your Lent season.
- 40 Days of Prayer – Pick 40 people in your life whom you can pray for over the next 40 days. Some suggestions include your spouse, kids, family, friends, co-workers, church, school, government, neighbors, and those who serve you (i.e. medical professionals, restaurant workers, hairdressers, store clerks, babysitters, teachers, etc).
- 40 Days Unplugged – Unplug from your computers, smart phones, televisions, etc for 40 days. I understand that modern technology is sometimes required for work or basic essentials (i.e. calling your spouse to say you’ll be home late or creating a PowerPoint presentation for your boss). Set specific guidelines for yourself only using technology for absolute essentials. If you can’t completely cut technology out of your life, try eliminating excess use (i.e. avoiding watching TV with your spouse in the evenings in favor of talking or connecting through an activity or fasting from social media in favor of connecting with people off the Web). Here are some tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Encouragement – Write a note of encouragement every day for a different person in your life.
- 40 Days of Organization – Purge clutter from your life by spending each day in a different part of your home getting rid of things. See this idea and this one on Pinterest for ideas on where to organize. Here are some great tips to get you started.
- 40 Days of Confession – Use this practical model of daily confessing to become more aware of your “problem areas” in your walk with God and to practically tackle sin in your life.
- 40 Days of Water- Fast from juice, tea, coffee, milk, and soda. Choose water as your only beverage. Reflect on the symbolism of water in the Bible. Do a word study on water.
- 40 Acts of Kindness – Do a random act of kindness each day for someone in your life. You can focus solely on one person (like your spouse) or pick 40 different people.
- 40 Days of Thanksgiving – Keep a gratitude journal. Each day make a list of things you are grateful for, and watch the list grow throughout Lent.
- 40 Days of Meditation – Pick a different Bible verse each day to meditate on – reflect on the meaning, write the verse in your own words, pray the verse for your life, and ask the Lord to show you a way to act on the verse.
- 40 Days of Praise – Spend five minutes a day in prayer just praising God. Use the three-fold method: Praise God in adoration (love Him), praise God for who He is (His character), and praise God for what He’s done (His work).
This is Whole Woman Wednesday #1. For more Lent ideas, see my Pinterest board.