The Elephant in the Room When It Comes to Wellness

 In Ministry/Leadership

The last post in the #WellnessWeek17 series comes from my friend Preston Hagaman. I asked Preston to share about the topic where I need the most help when it comes to wellness. It’s my least favorite post in the series because it’s the one I need the most! 

We’ve reached the end of the Wellness Week 2017 series, which hopefully has provided a great opportunity to address tough topics related to fitness, eating, and all things wellness. You’ve taken a look at several areas of your life and assessed things. Some things are going well, and some things aren’t. Things that you’re open and honest about, and several you’d rather avoid. Lurking beneath it all is one issue with the potential to sink all your efforts to change, grow, and get better.

So let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Discipline.

All your relationship problems are first and foremost spiritual issues. Likewise, your wellness problems are discipline issues. All you tell yourself, and others, about why you don’t get enough sleep, go to the gym, and eat healthy foods are excuses. We all have them, and they usually stink. Rather, they’re what you tell yourself so you don’t feel bad. The real problem is that you’re undisciplined.

That may sound like a harsh word to hear, but it’s true. Let me explain.

It takes discipline to get up early. When the alarm goes off, you face the decision to get out of bed, or hit the snooze button and remain there. You don’t get up and going by sheer happenstance. No, it requires the application of your will. In short, it takes discipline. It takes discipline to conquer your weakness, and it takes discipline to force yourself to pop out of bed and get after it, regardless of how your feel.

It takes discipline to get to the gym. There are a million different things that will beckon and call you away from going. Whether it’s time, energy, or something else, there’s always an opponent trying to stop you from getting a workout. It takes discipline to keep showing up day after day and working hard to achieve your goals. It takes discipline to push through the pain and finish a set.

It takes discipline to eat right. Every time you’re hungry, you’re face choices. Do you reach for something healthy or settle for junk? It’s not always easy to stay the course and eat what you should. It requires discipline to hold that line. Discipline to reach for fruit instead of candy. Discipline to skip a meal rather than take in garbage. Better to exercise discipline than to give in to the weakness of immediate gratification. Taking the long-term view is always a disciplined exercise.

From top to bottom, and side to side, fitness is all about discipline. You fail at getting stronger, faster, and better when you’re undisciplined. The war of discipline isn’t a large-scale offensive, but a collection of small skirmishes. It’s fought one small, seemingly insignificant, decision at a time.

As Blake Holmes said in his recent sermon, “the spiritual life is like a race and we need the discipline of an athlete. We want to look like an athlete but don’t want to train like one. And, we want the body of the athlete but we want to eat donuts instead.” You must remain vigilant in even the smallest things.

We fight the battle with weakness and sin one small, seemingly unimportant, moment at a time.

Discipline says, “Get after it” whether you feel like it or not, and whether you enjoy it or not. Discipline is doing that which you know will make you better regardless of your emotions.

The good news is that discipline begets more discipline. Each time you succeed in conquering your own will, it gets stronger. This makes each successive application of the will easier to perform. You get better at exercising discipline by being disciplined.

The even better news is that as followers of Christ, we have the capacity to be disciplined. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” I can try to use the excuse that I’m not a disciplined person, but as a follower of Christ, I have the Spirit of God in me, who gives me all the discipline I need. I just need to choose to use the discipline He’s given me!

That being said, there are a few things you can do to grow into a more disciplined person.

1. Decide to be disciplined. Subdue your mind and force yourself to do more and be better. Decide you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. This one step is surprisingly effective. Many failures to improve at something fail due to a lack of commitment and purpose. Know what you want to do, and why you want to do it.

2. Build mental toughness. Mental toughness and discipline go hand in hand. Building one helps build the other. Discipline often requires the mental resolve to say “no” to things your heart and your stomach want to say “yes” to. Practice doing the hard thing. It will bleed over into other areas of life.

3. Get up earlier. There are several reasons to get up early. The most compelling is this: Getting up early is a meta-discipline. It lays a foundation for all future disciplined activities for the day. Hitting the snooze button when your alarm sounds gives weakness a foothold. Your day will follow that pattern. Kick your day off with an easy win. Get out of bed when the alarm rings.

I don’t have all these things down. I give in to weakness and sin on far too regular a basis. Some mornings I hit the snooze button, miss a workout, and make poor mealtime choices. I don’t let those failures keep me down. I keep charging forward and chasing discipline. While discipline may sound oppressive or constraining, it is far from so.

Discipline ends up being your friend. It pushes you to excel and become more than you thought possible. Taking the disciplined path is the road to health, happiness, and growth. Jump on that path and stay the course. You may not get there overnight, but in time you’ll be glad you did.

Your Turn:

  • How would your life look different if you grew in discipline?
  • In what areas do you lack discipline? What do you have a hard time saying no to?
  • What benefit could an extra hour per day add to your life?

Preston lives in the Dallas area with his wife Hannah, their baby boy, and two golden retrievers. Preston is a photographer with Cottonwood Road Photography, where he and his wife capture couple’s biggest moments. You can read Preston’s blog here.

The Hagaman photo cred goes to the great Katie June Ruppel! You can find out more about Katie here.

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