My wife’s cousin, Bruce Jeffcoach, is a high school chemistry teacher in San Joachim valley in California. On the walls of his classroom along with the Periodic Table, a chart of measures, and appropriate posters, is a sign over the middle of the board in the front of the room. You can’t miss it. John Wooden, the UCLA coach said, “discipline yourself, so others don’t have to.” Bruce writes, “I simply get my students attention with a quite pssst sound and point to the quote above my whiteboard. I hope that helps to put all in order.”
To grow in Christ requires Spiritual Discipline. Think of spiritual discipline as the engine that drives spiritual care and spiritual insight. Let me give you a fresh way to think of “discipline.” We have thought of it as punishment. Let’s put that idea away. A discipline is what you choose to study in order to excel. For some people, music is their discipline, and they work at it to improve and be their best. The same could be said for economics, teaching, carpentry, auto mechanics, and so forth.
As Christians, our “discipline” is Christ. Consider this challenge:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11, NIV).
Notice that there are two parts, 1) to know Him, and 2) to be like Him. To know him is both a burden and a blessing, it calls for suffering and resurrection. To know him is to become like him in his suffering (death) and resurrection. We understand this, to know him is become like him. To know music is to become a musician. To know carpentry is to become a carpenter. To know Christ is to become like Christ.
Here is my definition of spiritual discipline:
Spiritual Discipline: To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in shouldering the burden and blessing of knowing and becoming like Christ’s through life experience, personal intention, and focused attention on the person and purpose of Jesus.
Here is a difference between knowing “music” and knowing “Christ.” You can choose to know the music, but Christ chooses you to know Him. He offers the invitation and you choose to respond:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry” (Matthew 11:25-30, New English Translation).
Apply spiritual discipline personally by considering these questions:
- What recent experiences have made you more like Jesus?
- Which of the classic spiritual disciplines (prayer, worship, Bible, etc.) help you become more like Jesus?
- In what way is learning to know and be like Jesus, both a blessing and a burden?
- How do you think Jesus will shape your life in the near future?
Copyright © Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.