The distance between your past and your future are your decisions and actions in the present.
For the past few weeks in church, we’ve been discussing the importance of closing the gap between where we want to be in life, and where we currently are. This is all of course related to the assumption that we’ve already reconciled the idea of what we want with what God wants for us (but that’s another topic altogether).
At any rate, it all got me thinking, how am I doing as a husband, father. and leader towards attaining where I want to be in life, where I believe God wants me to be? It’s clear that I’m not currently there, but the distance between here and there seemed kind of murky, until I started thinking about the power of self discipline.
One quick word about self discipline (it’s almost a blasphemous word to some). I don’t believe in the idea that personal responsibility and self discipline are the only factors in determining life outcomes. But they do play a significant role. If life is about taking what you’re given and making something of it, then self discipline is about exercising control over the things that we actually can control. And unsurprisingly, there’s very little in life that we actually can control externally. But, our internal selves, where we make choices, create habits, and take action- that’s very much within our control. We just need a little belief in our ability to make the right ones for our lives, and much of that belief comes from seeing ourselves as God sees us.
So, I started thinking about the self disciplines I need daily, and here are some steps I came up with for myself, potentially they might be useful to others on your journey.
First, know what you’re after in life. Where are you trying to go? Why do you want to get there? These are important questions to answer because this is your life’s vision. Without a vision, you’ll be direction-less, and trust me, God didn’t create you to simply exist. We’re purposeful beings by nature, so finding yours should be priority # 1.
Second, determine priorities (or values) for your life based on your vision: For me, because my personal vision is around impacting a generation of families for Jesus, it comes down to 3 priorities. First, each day I must live out my purpose in some way. Second, each day I must develop and use my God given gifts. Third, each day I must build towards the future. It follows that if I value these things, then there should be some evidence of these activities in my life right?
Create habits to reinforce your priorities and values: Habits automate and ritualize your priorities. You can always tell what’s important to someone by looking at what they consistently do and how they spend their time and their money. The more automatic your habits are, the easier it will become to reinforce your priorities and your values.