Undisciplined Discipline – It Makes Sense to Me

The Bible states that “Man looks to the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.1” The Bible ain’t never lied! Typically, people form opinions about each other based on superficial observations of what they see. But if we could pierce the outer crust and gaze deep down into the dark places of a man’s soul…who knows what we would find. Well I have a good example of this for you. By external observation, people believe I’m a very disciplined person. I often hear folks say such things as: “That’s easy for you to do Cripps, you are so disciplined.” Or, You can handle so many things because you are so disciplined.Or Your office is so orderly, I could never keep mine like this. Balderdash!

I have a startling revelation for you folks; I am not a disciplined person! Though I may appear at times to have much order and regulation in my life, know this: every fiber of my fleshly being fights against discipline. By nature I’m an ungovernable, lazy slob. The natural Cripps does not like working, cleaning, washing, drying, laundering, scrubbing, dusting, vacuuming, hammering, sawing, oiling, greasing, mowing, tilling, repairing, gluing, painting, typing, emailing, defragmenting or most things ending in “ing.” Are you surprised? Well, it’s true!

I suffer through these activities because I learned a long time ago that you can never achieve the truly important things in life you desire to attain, without first doing those things you dislike. Life is not an escalator ride to heaven, where we just climb aboard and rise up with no effort. Think of it like a canoe ride but the goal is upstream, not down. You can’t get away with kicking back and gently floating down the stream. You have to row, row, row your boat upstream against the current and you must work to overcome whatever else lay between you and your goal.

Life, as a whole, is a pilgrimage and everything in life is a miniature Pilgrim’s Progress. To get to the Celestial City, one must first wade through the Slough of Despond, climb the Hill Difficulty, traverse the Valley of the Shadow of Death, escape the Castle of Giant Despair, and so forth. If you turn from any of these you will not achieve your ultimate goal. You must stay in the race until the course is complete. You cannot quit the stage the first time you encounter a road block. There is no victory in turning back – even at 99% complete.

That is why I work to put on discipline. It is not my natural skin. It is an uncomfortable covering that I put on because I must. I do not wear it perfectly and I suppose that is why it is uncomfortable. It is constantly chafing against me. But I cannot overcome the obstacles in life without it. My natural self wants to be governed by emotion and attitude: How do I feel today? Is there a problem? Is it convenient? Is it popular? The fleshly Cripps wants to live in the moment – for the here and now – with little regard for future consequences. You think that doesn’t sound like John Cripps? Well, if only we mortals had the ability to see within the soul of a man. I take little pleasure in this self-flogging but, alas, it is the real me. Any self-control I’ve attained in this life has been gained through much pain and effort, through many dangers, toils and snares. Yes, there is heavenly grace and that must not be discounted. But don’t sit back and think God is going to twitch his nose and make you a disciplined person. Yes, he possesses the ability and could easily accomplish the task, but that is not how it works. By God’s grace, we have the ability to overcome our fleshly vices but we must act. God gives the tools but we must provide the sweat. Saavy? We have been given the responsibility to improve ourselves with the tools God has placed at our disposal. But we have to get off our posteriors and get to work. We have to take the painful steps toward self-governing our lives.

Why Should I Care?

Hey, why should we? What’s the point, right? The world is a mess. Chaos and unruliness abound and folks are quick to point fingers. We live in a society where everyone has become a victim. We have learned to blame everyone in the world, save ourselves, for our troubles. This is a train that is easy to climb aboard. Yes, we can blame the government for all our problems. We can blame corporations. We can blame public schools. We can blame the Chinese and the Jews. We can blame the fluoride in the drinking water. We can blame anyone, or anything, but ourselves! And we are much more concerned with rights than responsibilities. It seems to soothe the conscience somewhat to relax in the easy chair, or on the back porch, and criticize the rest of the world. Its so easy to accuse any and all who are not present, for the woes in your life. So, you ask, “If the world is so messed up, why is that my concern? Besides, what can one man do? We are told that modernity has made the earth small. But what we don’t realize is, it has made all of us smaller as well. We feel helplessly stuck in the whirlwind of global problems. We are reminded of them everyday with news piped into our televisions, our computers and even our phones. What we must realize is there is an entire world in our own backyard. There is much we conquer and rule that is within our grasp. We need to zoom in our focus.

Another problem is the fact that we scorn success. If a person is successful in business and accumulates a sizable amount of wealth, he will be accused of greed and all manner of evil. After all, he had to obtain the wealth by some ill-gotten means! Hard work and long hours of disciplined “doing things I dislike to attain the goal I seek” is not even in the cards. Yes, some of these people are evil, greedy homo sapiens who may have used crooked means to attain their end. Most, however, are just hard-working, disciplined people who are receiving the reward of their labor. It’s easy to sit back and verbally thrash successful people. What is difficult is pulling up the bootstraps and making yourself the kind of person who can achieve great things.

Why is this so difficult? We are an undisciplined society. Generally speaking, there are few folks that really have a respectable measure of self-control over themselves. Consider,

  • This is why we are a debt society. Folks have no self-control over their finances. Credit cards are not a convenience medium for them, but rather an easy way to obtain things now that you have not yet expended labor for.
  • This is why we are an obese society. Statistics are alarming here. Americans have little self-control over what they eat. If it tastes good “gimme a second helping of that.”
  • This is why families have unruly children. Parents have not disciplined themselves to discipline their children. And what good is accomplished even if discipline is applied to children by undisciplined parents.
  • This is why many of our homes and businesses look like tornadoes passed through them. We endlessly accumulate bric-à-brac and yet hate to clean and maintain it all.
  • This is why the public schools are such a mess. Yes, many blame it on taking prayer out of schools. I blame it on taking discipline out of schools. Even the ancient Greeks knew that there can be no education apart from order and discipline.
  • This is why our civil government is such a travesty. Congress is comprised of numerous men and women who have criminal records. We just keep re-electing them. We don’t have the discipline to study character and vote for individuals, rather than party. Nor, do we seem to have the discipline to run for office ourselves.