Discipline in Disillusionment


Discipline copy

A few weeks ago I was talking with a close friend about a commitment he had made. He had agreed to something for a series of weeks, but was starting to grow tired of it. Some weeks he was sick, but others he wouldn’t do it because he didn’t feel like follow through. “I’m feeling disillusioned” he told me. He didn’t know why he had made the commitment and didn’t see value in continuing through it.

I have heard these sentiments more and more often from other friends about other commitments. Commitments, mind you, that not only affect themselves, but others as well.

“I’m busy”, “I’m not in a good place”, or “I need some me time” are common responses I’ve heard from people who’ve given up commitments, whether it be to working out, church, or relationships. I find myself saying the same things too.

And there is some validity to these comments. Not every meeting it going to be the greatest. Not every sermon is going to change your life. Not every workout is going to be your best. There are valid times to forgo some commitments for the sake of other needs or greater commitments.

But is “not feeling like it” a good enough reason to stop, to go slack?

When it comes to working out, we know the answer is ‘no’. When we’re disillusioned about the results and don’t feel like working out, that’s the time to push through. Coming from experience, if you give into disillusionment, it may be weeks before you go again. And during that time you’ll be growing in the wrong direction.

The results of working out are tangible. You can see and feel a difference when you’re inactive for a long time or when you’ve been hitting the gym. But what about other commitments, like Church or friendships?

These aren’t commitments that you can end just because you don’t feel like it any more. They aren’t like the pay-as-you-go contracts available today, yet sometimes we treat them so. We allow disillusionment to be the signal that it’s no longer relevant or valuable. This ends up being a consumer mentality, only seeking these goods, friendships and Church, when we feel we need or are ready for them.

When we feel disillusioned is precisely the time we need friendships and Church, yet often that is when we pull away. I’ve seen many people as they go through tough times pull away from their friends and Church. The very supports they have been disciplined about building they abandon when adversity comes. Is it really discipline if you only follow through when it feels good, when it’s convenient?

Abandoning one’s commitments to friends and Church during dry spells can be consumeristic, placing instant gratification over long-term benefits. We loose our value of discipline and replace it with a present-me centeredness.

While individual meetings, catch-ups with friends, and workouts on their own may seem dull and wastes of time, there is an intrinsic value in the art of discipline. A forgotten virtue, discipline acts as an anchor, giving us foundations to reference. It establishes rhythms and patterns in our lives, ballasts that keep us stable in times of storms.

The author of Hebrews valued and encouraged commitment.

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

The author calls for commitment to encouraging one another (friendships) and meeting together (Church). Already recognizing that people were beginning to grow weary of their commitment, he or she stresses the importance of discipline even as the Day is approaching.

Where a lack of discipline often leads to hurt and heartache, practiced discipline leads to healing. My pastor recently spoke about discipleship being obedience and discipline. He stated that “the pathway of discipleship is the pathway to peace.” Discipline, beyond the single acts, acts as a pathway to grater things.

Disillusionment is powerful and real. There are times when we will need to change our commitments. But let us stay true to our current commitments. Let our ‘Yes’ be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be ‘no’.  And in the moments when you must leave, when you change friend circles or change churches, remember the words of the Scriptures, to continue to meet with the Church, and encourage one another.

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