How to Develop Self-discipline, by John MacArthur (taken from The Pillars of Christian Character, [Crossway:1998], 139ff).
1. Start with small things. Clean your desk and your room. Then your car, house, and put things where they belong all the time, and do it right away, not later.
2. Get yourself organized. Make a schedule, however general or specific, and stick to it. Use a planner. Use a to-do list and get the things done. Be intentional. “If you don’t control your time, everything (and everyone) else will” (140).
3. Don’t constantly seek to be entertained. Do productive things many of the times you have free. Learn to entertain yourself with things that are challenging, stimulating, and creative. Read a good book, exercise, listen to good music, or have a conversation with someone.
4. Be on time. “Being punctual marks a life that is organized. It reveals a person whose desires, activities, and responsibilities are under control, allowing him to get where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Being on time also acknowledges the importance of other people and the value of their time” (140).
5. Keep your word. “If you say you’re going to do something, do it – when you said you would do it and how you said you would do it.
6. Do the most difficult tasks first.
7. Finish what you start. “If you start something, finish it. Therein lies an important key to developing self-discipline” (141).
8. Accept correction. Correction helps you see what you need to avoid. So gladly accept it (Prov. 19:20; 15:31-32).
9. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings and impulses whenever they’re wrong-headed and sometimes even when things are within your freedom to remind yourself to stick to God-centered priorities.
10. Welcome responsibility. “Volunteer to do things that need to be done. That will force you to have your life organized enough to have time for such projects” (141).
Why be disciplined?
· For spiritual growth
· To understand priorities
· To walk carefully
· To live by principle, not emotion (thus feeding and increasing emotion properly)
The biblical priorities of the self-disciplined:
1. Remember who owns you – God the Father through Jesus Christ.
2. Remember the covenant of salvation – the gospel that forgave you, freed you, and obligates you to obey Christ.
3. Recognize that sin violates your relationship with God
4. Control your imagination
5. Focus on God’s causes – the kingdom, missions, evangelism, edification, loving others, all for the purpose of feeding and expressing worship of God.