Practice doesn't always happen cheerfully around these parts.
Sports, piano, penmanship...
Self-discipline is not easy. I have often found myself struggling to help my children understand why practice and perseverance is so important. Why it is critical to their character.
I doesn't help matters that this is an issue I struggled with growing up. And if I'm being completely honest, I still struggle with it.
When I was young I often quit activities as soon as they became too difficult. As soon as I was aware they were going to take up more of my time. I would I have to push myself, I would have to persevere, I quit.
This is something I have prayed about often. And while the Lord has helped me make great progress, it is still a character flaw I have to fight against.
When I saw some of "me" in my kids I wanted to do whatever I could to change it. That included getting mad, being disappointed, handing out consequences and offering rewards.
I didn't like the laziness. Still don't.
I finally discovered the best method of helping my children with this part of their character is to simply walk along side of them.
Being burdened with this doesn't help anyone. I simple need to help them the best way I can, in love. Help them find their passions. Be present for them in the struggle and let them fail.
Most importantly, rejoice with them in their victories.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
The Word gives me all the direction I need to guide my children, and myself, through this.
Discussions of this verse have helped a lot.
This weekend I was reading "The Final Summit" by Andy Andrews. He writes an amazing few pages about self-discipline. It may be my favorite part of the book so of course I had to share it. In this section of the book King David is discussing self-discipline with Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc and a few others.
Have you read this book? Because I realize that sounds a little crazy.
Anyway, here is what King David says regarding self-discipline...
"It takes self-discipline to practice, because practice is rarely exciting. But I understood the principle at an early age. Exerting self-discipline is merely a process by which you remember what you really want. You see, I did not want to practice. What I really wanted was to be proficient with the sling. Therefore, I learned to discipline myself to practice on targets - rocks and trees- for hours every day.
What do you really want? That is the question that fuels a person to a strong discipline that can only be administered to himself by himself. And success in any endeavor where self-discipline in involved boils down to this question: can you make yourself do something you don't particularly want to do in order to get a result you would like to have?"
This is the best explanation I have ever found. And I'm sure I will have an opportunity to use it soon enough.
For my kids, it might be piano or penmanship. For me, it may be waking up early for quiet time with the Lord or making sure I exercise.
But whatever I do, I will strive to do it with all my heart...for the Lord.