Tag Archives: Self-Discipline

Free From Regrets

She came to me desiring help with depression. One of the first projects I gave her was to go to bed early enough so that she could get up in the morning to have time with the Lord before the children were up. She agreed to the homework, but clearly told me that she didn’t have self-control, that she liked to stay up at night, and that she didn’t get up in the morning.

The next week, she reported having gone to bed and gotten up on time for a whole week. She was very pleased with herself. She had also had Bible reading and prayer each morning. What about the depression? I asked. “Oh, it was a great week. The depression really wasn’t an issue.”

Who Has Self-Control?

Have you thought about self-control? What value does it hold in your life? Do you esteem it or reject it? Have you noticed that self-control is sometimes made fun of, mocked, and put down? Or some will say that others can have self control but they can’t.

In our society, though, athletes are admired. Doesn’t it take self-control for them to achieve the physical prowess that makes them skilled? People who have built successful businesses are also admired. Some even study those individuals’ lives in order to dissect what qualities they have that help them in their achievements. Usually self-control is at or near the top of those lists. What about the student who receives academic accolades? Again self-control is integral to that success.

Did you know that self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit? “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Doesn’t that mean it is available to everyone who is saved?

Freedom!

Ten years ago, I was drinking several sodas a day. I justified myself by saying I had no self-control when it came to resisting a Pepsi. Even so, at the end of a day of drinking Pepsi (which was every day), I would guiltily think particularly about wasted calories and some about wasted money and decide not to drink any more Pepsi. The next morning, though, I would find myself making excuses as to why “today” wasn’t a good day to break my Pepsi habit.

On December 31st 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. Do I regret giving up Pepsi? Not a chance! Do I live anymore with guilt because I drink Pepsi? No! I am free. I often thank and praise the Lord for the freedom from bondage to Pepsi and the guilt that went with it. Freedom is a delightful thing!

Drinking Pepsi was following the flesh for me, but stopping it was walking in the Spirit. Which life do you think has fewer regrets and less guilt—life in the flesh or life in the Spirit?

Self-Control Brings Blessings

There are struggles moms come to us with for which they want help. Often self-control is the solution—a simple word but difficult implementation. For example, some have trouble with time management or there are moms who ask for help with depression or anger.

Steve and I have watched moms get hold of the simple concept of going to bed and getting up at a set time. Initially they say can’t do that because they lack self-control, but they are so miserable with their current life that they say they will do anything for change. They make a commitment to do it for a month.

Those who follow through on that commitment are excited. They have chosen self-control when they thought they had none. They discover the key to their time management problems. They are elated not only with the changes that happen as a result of going to bed and getting up at the designated time but also with the realization that they do, after all, have self-control.

Those who don’t live out their bedtime and wake-up time commitment have excuses and continue in the same discouragement with which they started. Similar women, similar circumstances, similar needs, similar desires but a significant difference—one chooses self-control, the other doesn’t.

The Path of Self-Control

Each of us has those kinds of choices before us each day. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

When I was tempted to drink a Pepsi, or a mom is tempted to stay in bed when the alarm goes off, or you are tempted by something the Lord is calling you to exercise self-control concerning, Scripture tells us that God has provided a way of escape. Is it possible, though, that we don’t want to take the way of escape, that we enjoy aspects of what we are doing, that we would rather follow the flesh?

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:4-6). After giving up Pepsi, I experienced peace in my heart whereas before there was conflict and guilt. I would so much rather walk after the Spirit than after the flesh. What about you?

Would you tell me that you don’t have self-control, that you have tried before and failed? Then could I remind you of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Are you praying and asking God for His strength? Do you have Scripture memorized to quote to yourself? Are you willing to deny your flesh? I am no spiritual giant. I am no different that you. However, I do strive to daily learn more and more to rely on the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, and the joy and peace that brings. If I can have self-control through Christ Who strengthens me, you can too!

Counting the Cost

What is God calling you to have self-control concerning? Your battle might not be with unhealthy food or wasting time, but whatever it is, I expect you are aware of it. I am sure that self-control will bring you peace you long for–and a multitude of other benefits along with it.

The peace would be enough for me, but I could not help but do some calculations as I closed this article. Based on drinking 24 ounces of Pepsi a day (and I could easily drink much more than that some days!) for ten years, I didn’t consume 87,600 calories, which would convert to 25 pounds of weight that I didn’t gain, and we saved about $1662. I have no regrets. I would like to encourage you in a life of self-control without regrets as well.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 6

The purpose of this series of articles has been to encourage moms who want to become more self-disciplined in their lives. We began with this e-mail:

I was wondering if you had any advice (or possibly you could address this in a Mom’s Corner) on how someone can improve her work ethic. I am terribly embarrassed to admit this, but I really feel like at times I can be lazy. I know there are things that need to be done, but I just don’t feel like doing them! I realize that this is a sinful attitude, and I want to change. Do other moms struggle with this? Would you have any tips on how I can improve or Bible verses that could encourage me in this area? Self-discipline is a character quality I would very much like to see flourish in my life, and I would like to pass it on to my children!

As we wrap up our series, we are continuing to look at ways other moms move themselves from a lazy lifestyle to the disciplined heart they greatly desire. Amber shares this with us:

I really love your Mom’s Corners. They seem to help me out, and they are food for thought. I wanted to let you know lazy to self-disciplined really hit home to me for it seemed to be something that I struggle with daily.

Second I remind myself that it does not ALL have to be done TODAY! As women, we seem to think of a million things that must be done. However, the reality is just one thing at a time. There are some days where I can only do it five minutes at a time. I have five darling children, the oldest is six and the youngest is a month old. There are days when hubby comes home and asks what I did all day. I tell him two things—I nursed the baby and made dinner with one hand. Sometimes that is all I can do, but as long as I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and am actively pursuing it, I know He will bless me with the strength and knowledge that I need.

This verse encourages me, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:5-6).” Amber

Amber directs us to the ultimate source of our self-discipline—the Lord Jesus. Making self-discipline a focus by praying and studying the Word, she is allowing the Lord to the transform her life, give her the energy she needs, and help her make choices away from laziness.

When Amber tells her husband all she did was to nurse the baby and make dinner with one hand, we know she did much more than that. She spent time with the Lord in the Word early in the morning, got the children up and dressed, fed them breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, brushed the little ones’ teeth, made beds, picked up toys, directed the children in their play, washed laundry, fed the children lunch, put them down for their naps, homeschooled her five and six-year-old, and who knows what other tasks she accomplished in addition to nursing the baby and making dinner. She just doesn’t feel like she has anything to show for her time, but her investment in her family has been invaluable and most necessary. She has not been lazy but self-disciplined.

The next self-discipline idea gives us a hint at how we can prepare our environment to either help or hinder laziness.

Hi Teri,
Just wanted to say that one way I fight my being lazy is to put on a apron in the morning; it just gives me the feeling that I’m dressed for work and sets me apart as the homemaker, and keeps my skirts from getting too dirty from the daily work of cooking, cleaning, and caring for young children.
Andrea

Not only will putting on an apron give one an attitude that is conducive to working, but also getting dressed in the morning and making the bed upon rising can do the same. An unmade bed and walking through the house in a robe seems to facilitate the lazy choices more than the self-disciplined ones.

Here is a suggestion you might be interested in from Kathy.

Teri,
You asked for tips on being more self-disciplined. One thing I do is to picture a room or piece of furniture as it would look if it were clean. This is motivating to me. When I picture it, I feel so good inside!  Having a taste of that feeling keeps me going to finish cleaning and straightening it. Kathy

This might be something you would want to try. When you feel like you want to avoid doing a task in front of you, picture in your mind what it will be like to have it completed, and then let that motivate you to tackle it.

This is the final suggestion I received to pass on to you.

Teri,
This hits my heart directly. I was not taught to be a hard worker and now having a family of my own, I have to make decisions on whether I will allow my upbringing to destroy my family and my children’s as they grow or if I will work to better it now for the future. I get bogged down and feel overwhelmed, like I’m drowning with all that needs to be done. However, I’ve helped to create that feeling. I find that I’m really good at wasting time self-indulging, rather than working on what needs to get done thus making the tasks harder because the mess grows.

So for me, I’ve had to do much what you do with writing your column. I set a timer to do a task ten minutes (give or take a few) at a time. If the dishes need to be done, that is something I can accomplish in that amount of time and what a rewarding feeling it is. If it’s straightening up the living room, by the time ten minutes go by, I’m amazed with what I got done and how quickly ten minutes passed! Sometimes (and only sometimes since I AM a work in progress) I continue on after the timer goes off.

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so periodically if I would really rather read than work, I tell myself I can sit and read for a certain number of minutes IF I switch the laundry, fold and put it away, as a kind of reward. Sometimes I feel like I’m being silly, but not being raised to just do it, it takes these kinds of ‘silly’ rewards.

Thank you for addressing this issue of laziness to self-discipline.
Jacque

As we wrap up our discussion of laziness and self-discipline, I want to direct you to the Word. Remember the Scripture verses we began this series with that showed how the Lord desires us to be self-disciplined.

Cry out to the Lord to help you if this is an area in which you are struggling. Consider the example you will be to your children when you model self-discipline to them. Don’t we want to help them overcome obstacles that they will likely face in their futures?

Being self-disciplined will enable us to be good stewards of the time God has placed into our hands. I encourage you to use a schedule so that you can be productive with your time and manage it well. If you would like some help with a schedule, we would suggest Managers of Their Homes. Here’s what Jamie wrote:

Thank you so much for this book! It has been extremely helpful. Not only do I have three children of my own, but I also watch two children. So I have five children four and under. My oldest has begun kindergarten this year. Using the schedule has made the days run smoothly. Everything is getting done (even the laundry!). I am not a schedule person. But it doesn’t seem like a schedule as much when I am the one planning the day!

As additional motivation, look toward the rewards you and your family will experience when you are accomplishing the tasks that will be part of your self-disciplined choices. January is a time of new beginnings. Will you make the move from lazy to self-disciplined?

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 5

As we continue our series of Mom’s Corners discussing moving from being lazy to being self-disciplined, I will first direct you to the previous four articles.

I have been asking others to share their strategies for how the Lord has helped them toward a self-disciplined life. Now I can give some of those to you so that you can be helped and encouraged by them too.

Jen sent me a whole list of her tips.

1. Everyone works together so that everyone can relax together. I try to be mindful that my husband is working at a job all day, and that I should be ‘on the clock’ too. Then, the children and I all do our morning chores at the same time. When no one is just sitting around, everyone works a little harder! It almost becomes like a race. The children scurry around trying to get everything picked up while I’m working in the kitchen because no one still wants to be in their area when the vacuum starts running. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant, and a good old-fashioned competition spices things up!

2. Make a joyful noise!! This is a great time to see if you know all the verses to a favorite hymn by heart. Often, getting all the way through Amazing Grace is the same amount of time it takes to clean the bathroom—if I’m hustling. AND, I feel totally uplifted at the end.

3. Think of it as a gift. Despite my #1 point, there are definitely days off that I get that my husband doesn’t get (say days we don’t do school). I know that on those days I will get more time to put my feet up. So, it is a nice thing to clean the kitchen after dinner sometimes without asking for help and let him have some much-needed downtime too!

4. Pay attention to your best time of day to do ____________. I am most cheerful and energetic in the morning, so the best time for me to do chores is then. In the afternoon I’m better off grading children’s work, or prepping for the next day’s school. Because I know this about myself, different kinds of work feel less onerous. I frequently cook with my crock-pot, because I can make dinner in the morning then too!

5. Compliment yourself and your children on a job well done. Once a task is complete I love to sit back and say out loud, WOW! The ______________ looks sooooooooooooo nice! It directs everyone’s focus to the fact that our house is a more peaceful place when tidy.

As an aside, I think we all need to really pay attention to where we are in life too. As I finish out the first trimester of my fifth pregnancy in nine years, I know that my all day/night morning sickness has about a month left to go—maybe two. I honor the fact that the most important thing I am doing right now is growing a baby. If that makes me too tired to do everything I usually do, I ask for help, or in some cases I let things go undone. This is a time to talk to my children about the miracle happening inside me, to encourage them to help with the littles when I can’t and to come and read their school work to me when I am too sick to get up. It teaches them kindness, compassion, and understanding too!—Jen

As Jen suggested, by encouraging your children to work with you, you are helping them to develop self-discipline, a quality that will benefit them both now and in the future. Singing while you do what you need to do, if that is possible, raises your heart to praising the Lord in the midst of your work. Certainly when we choose to do something that allows our spouse to rest or frees them for another task, we have the satisfaction of loving and serving. Finally, Jen’s decision to pay attention to tasks that require more energy and then to schedule them when her energy level is higher helps her to be more willing to undertake the jobs that she might otherwise want to avoid.

In addition to the suggestions that Jen brought up, she turns our attention to another thing that we need to consider and that is what constitutes being lazy. She is at the end of her first trimester, and she doesn’t have the energy to do what she can do when she isn’t pregnant. Does that make her lazy? Certainly not. She is wise to listen to her body, rest when she needs to in order to care for her unborn baby, and let work go that she would normally do.

Along these same lines, I received this e-mail from Erin.

Thank you Teri for your Corners. I am struggling at the moment. In the Mom’s Corner you wrote, ‘If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.’ How can we know if we really need to rest more, or if we should just keep pushing ourselves so that we are not being lazy? Sometimes I feel like everything is an effort, sometimes too much. I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time, but other days (not often enough) I have so much energy and achieve a lot. If I give in and rest, I will not get done all I need to to keep the house in order. Thanks again for all your encouragement. —Erin

I think this is a pertinent and serious question. For trying to determine whether you are being lazy or is just plain tired, I think you want to do two things: consider where you are physically and check your spirit. On the physical side, are you getting enough sleep? Do you have a nursing baby who gets you up in the night? If you know you aren’t getting enough sleep, then taking a nap in the afternoon isn’t being lazy. It is being prudent. You will get more accomplished with the other hours in the day, and you will have a more pleasant attitude as well.

If you are chronically tired for no apparent reason such as lack of sleep, then you want to check your diet and exercise. Are you eating a healthy diet? Sometimes we undermine our health by getting into habits of subsisting on caffeine pushes from coffee or soda only to have that cause health repercussions. Do you exercise? If you are not physically fit, you will not have a good energy level and will be more lethargic. It is possible that you need to go to a doctor to determine if there is a physical cause for being tired.

For the spirit check, ask yourself: Why is everything an effort? Is it because you don’t want to do it? Is it because you don’t like to do it? If that’s the case, then it could be laziness. This laziness manifests itself in thoughts like, “I don’t like what I have to do, and therefore, I resist it.”

As far as feeling overwhelmed, remember that last month, I encouraged moms to use a schedule. It makes you much more productive, and it helps you avoid that overwhelmed feeling.

I would also encourage you to ask your husband. Often those who know us best have a more realistic picture of us than we do ourselves. It might be that we are deceiving ourselves by saying that we aren’t lazy when in practice we are. It might also be, though, that we are pushing too hard when we need to slow down, and that slowing down isn’t lazy at all. It is being reasonable.

I still have suggestions that I want to pass on to you from several more moms on what helps them to be self-disciplined. I can continue with those next month. For now, I want to encourage you to have your heart set on what the Lord Jesus has called you to do. Be productive with your time, resting in Him to allow you to accomplish what He has set before you. If you are tired, evaluate whether there is a physical cause that needs to be corrected and take the necessary steps. Don’t call yourself lazy when you are not getting enough sleep because you were up in the night with children, and then you feel tired in the afternoon. Take a nap when the children do. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself when you are pregnant and have run out of energy at the end of the day, or even the middle of the day. However, if clothes need to be folded and you are surfing the Internet, then I encourage you to call it lazy. If it is time to start homeschooling and you are checking e-mail, then I suggest you determine that self-discipline is the better road for you. Get off the computer, and start school!

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 4

We have been investigating the challenging topic of how we can move from being lazy at heart to being self-disciplined. If you haven’t read the other parts in the series, you may do so.

In the previous articles, we looked at the biblical basis for choosing to be self-disciplined. Here is another verse to motivate us toward accomplishing what the Lord Jesus has set before us each day: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).

The time the Lord has given to each of us is a treasure, and He wants us to be good stewards of that treasure. This is evident in the parable told in Matthew 25:14-29. Are we using our time as the faithful servant who was given five talents and used it to get five more talents, or are we like the unfaithful servant who took and hid his one talent in the ground? When we are productive with our time, we are the faithful servant, but when we waste time, we are the unfaithful one.

On the practical side of self-discipline, I have found that using a schedule helps me not to be lazy. The schedule sets in front of me what needs to be accomplished, so I do not have to make dozens of decisions as I move through my day about what I am going to do next. Before using a schedule, with the ending of each activity, would come the temptation not to do what needed to be done. I had the option of deciding to do something I would rather do than what I needed to do, to do nothing, or to do a time waster—all of which were the lazy choices rather than the self-disciplined ones.

When I began making and using a schedule, I was seeking the Lord for what He wanted me to be doing and how to fit that into the available time. The right decision had been made when developing the schedule, and all I had to do was to follow it. In setting my schedule, I made sure to include personal activities that were important to me, such as Bible reading and prayer, exercise, and time with my children.  were not lazy or undisciplined activities. They were positive priorities for my time, and they were going to happen when they were in the schedule. For more detailed information on scheduling, I would recommend Managers of Their Homes.

Here is an e-mail that was generated from this Mom’s Corner series:

Mrs. Maxwell,

In reading your article “From Lazy to Self-Disciplined,” my question is would you further help me to define productive activities? I admit that I am not a very disciplined housekeeper. But many times I choose to spend time with my children (7, 4, and 1) and not on housework. The easy answer would be that the children and I would do the housework as our activity, but I know that the season of life we are in now is short. If my husband is okay with a little clutter, is playing in the sandbox with my little ones a productive activity? Should my focus be on raising my children or keeping the house?

Thank you,
Amber

I would encourage Amber that raising children and keeping house are not mutually exclusive. Playing with the children is a productive activity, but only when it is balanced with the necessary housework. If all a mom does is play with the children, then it would become a lazy choice, especially if she is avoiding her household responsibilities by doing it.

When using a schedule, there is time to keep house and play in the sandbox with the children. Both activities are important and productive. If Amber will schedule her children to work with her, she will not only be maximizing her time with the children but she will also be teaching them to be self-disciplined. Her struggle with being a disciplined housekeeper is most likely rooted in a childhood where she wasn’t encouraged to work; therefore, she didn’t learn the self-discipline that would be an asset to her as an adult. We had a series of articles on this topic not too long ago: Holly Homemaker.

Another way that I can direct you toward self-discipline is to make use of those little bits of time that are easily wasted whether one is using a schedule or not. Here is an example of that. In the morning, Steve and I walk for an hour, then I hang on an inversion table for my back, and next comes personal Bible reading and prayer time. Before I start my Bible reading, I prepare a moist heating pad by putting it in the microwave for three minutes.

Here is what I was able to accomplish in those three minutes when I tracked it one morning to share with you.

  • Got out vitamins.
  • Washed up several dishes sitting in the sink.
  • Took soiled towels to the washing machine.
  • Put items away that were out on the counter.

 

I could have spent those three minutes simply doing nothing or looking through a catalog. This is often the temptation when there are just a few minutes available. We tend to think it isn’t worth trying to be productive with that time. However, consider what one can accomplish in just three minutes!

Let me share with you the one testimony of ways to develop self-discipline that I received after my first request. This example fits in well with the suggestion to use small pieces of time productively.

“One practical way that I have found to combat laziness is to use a timer for my computer use. I set the timer for ten minutes. This gives me time to check my e-mail and maybe take a quick peek at a couple of other sites (like the Maxwell family blog!). I find that ten minutes a day is enough to do whatever I need to do on the Internet.

“I used to be always popping onto the computer to ‘check just one thing’—only to realize an hour had gone by. It was really just a lack of self-discipline and a lazy way of avoiding the tasks that I needed to be about. I was also searching for inspiration and affirmation on the Internet, instead of searching God’s Word.” Cherie

Cherie is utilizing a few short minutes and then choosing to be self-disciplined by limiting her computer time to what she has determined would be best for her. Setting the timer keeps her accountable to the standard that she has decided upon. Her method can work for any of us, and I think we can all relate to getting on the computer to see if we have any e-mail, thinking it will only take a minute or two, and suddenly realize an hour has gone by.

Since my initial request for suggestions on how to move from laziness to self-discipline, I have received several more, so I plan to share those in next month’s Mom’s Corner. For now, I encourage you to be a faithful steward of the time God has given you. Consider using a schedule to help you be productive and to minimize, or maybe even eliminate, the lazy time wasters in your life. I pray your heart will be pulled to the self-discipline that the Lord would want in your life.

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 3

Before we move to the Corner, I have to share with you about Sweet Journey, a book that we have just released. So many moms come to me, through e-mail and are struggling. As I have worked with them, giving them projects to help them to build foundations in their walk with the Lord, their e-mails suddenly take on a new lilt: one of excitement, encouragement, and hope! This book has been on my heart for many months, possibly even years, and it’s our prayer that the Lord will use it in the lives of Christian women throughout the world. For more information see this page.

This month we are continuing to delve into the area of moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. If you haven’t read the other two parts of this series here is the link.

In the first article where I shared an e-mail with questions on this subject that kicked off our discussion, one thing the mom asked me was if I thought other moms struggle with being lazy. I assured her that I expected we all do to some extent or other. I am now even more convinced of that because in the last article, I asked for readers to share their testimonies of moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. I only received one story!

We have evaluated the Biblical basis for choosing self-discipline rather than laziness in the previous articles. I encouraged you to be looking for verses that would endorse self-discipline rather than laziness as you were in the Word. Amy did just that. Here is what she wrote.

”I came across this verse while reading Ecclesiastes today, and I thought it fit with the current Mom’s Corner series. ‘By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.’ (Ecclesiastes 10:18)” Amy

This verse hits right where our hearts are—in our homes. A building decaying and a house dropping through could be literal or figurative. In the figurative sense, it might be along the lines of what we discussed last month. Our example to our children—whether it is an example of laziness of an example of self-discipline—will have profound effects in their lives. Laziness can be the root of children who grow up but cannot be successful in their adult lives. Certainly for a mother’s heart this would be a house that dropped through. Would it motivate us to be a model of self-discipline if we thought about the impact it might have on our children throughout their lives? Would we give in to laziness if we realized that it wasn’t just a harmless choice that we make with no visible consequences, but that it was a decision that could devastate our children’s lives?

Once we have it firmly embedded in our minds that laziness is to be avoided and self-discipline practiced, I would suggest we begin by taking it to the Lord. We can repent of our laziness and ask forgiveness by confessing them to the Lord Jesus. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Then we will petition the Lord in our prayers for His grace and strength to help us change. He does tell us we can do all things through Him. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

The Lord Jesus also says that His grace is sufficient for us because His strength is made perfect in weakness. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Rather than feeling defeated because of our laziness, Paul would encourage us to see our infirmity of laziness as an opportunity for Christ’s power to become our strength.

Next I would encourage that we memorize—that in itself is a great self-discipline activity—at least one key verse that directs us to self-discipline and two or three would be even more helpful. Those verses are going to be the truth that we use to take our thoughts captive. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Memorized verses will help us move our minds from “I deserve to do nothing,” or “I never have any time to myself” to the truth of “Serving is a blessing,” and “I want to do what the Lord has for me to do.” So when the self-indulgent thoughts begin to formulate, you can remember this verse, “. . . Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Chronicles 22:16).

After the first article in this series, Amy also wrote this testimony about how she motivates herself to accomplish her tasks.

“I just read the Mom’s Corner about laziness versus self-discipline. I’ve realized that sometimes when I don’t feel like working it is because I am tired or overwhelmed with a task. But, I can also self-indulge and waste time too. I’ve noticed that I am happiest when my house is clean and organized. I am not happy when I spend time online and get behind on housework.

These realizations help me to make decisions. Should I unload and load the dishwasher or get on the computer? What is going to make me happiest in the long run? What is going to make my life easier? What is going to be best for my family? I’ve also realized that God has given me enough hours in the day to accomplish what I need to accomplish. I’m the one who wastes time and then gripes that I have too much to do.” Amy

Amy has some good insights into her heart and her time. How often it can be true that we murmur about being too busy, but then choose to waste time. If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.

When a task is so overwhelming that we don’t want to attempt it, I have found that if I tell myself I am just going to work on it for a certain amount of time, I will get started. I often do that when writing a Mom’s Corner. Because I only have two homeschool students left and one doesn’t need any of my teaching time, I normally have two hours a day scheduled for computer time. During those two hours, I am mostly answering Titus2 ministry e-mails that Steve sends to me and other miscellaneous tasks that are done at the computer, but each month I also need to write a Mom’s Corner. That is more difficult for me than answering e-mail. So I will sometimes allow other computer activities, ones that aren’t as taxing as writing the Mom’s Corner, to be an excuse not to write it. Then I will determine that I will spend at least one hour on the Mom’s Corner each day until it is completed. When I am finished with that hour, I can move on to other computer tasks that aren’t as difficult for me. Before I know it, the Mom’s Corner is written, one hour a day at a time, and I am very happy to have it done! This tactic could apply just as well to fifteen minutes a day as to an hour a day. Rather than being overwhelmed, spend fifteen minutes on the task and be encouraged by the progress you will make.

I want to motivate you in your desire to please the Lord Jesus by letting go of laziness and developing self-discipline. The Lord’s grace is available to us in this task, and His power will allow us to be successful. As you make self-discipline one of your goals, you will find great personal blessings, and you will also bless your husband and children. Next month we continue with more practical ways to move from laziness to self-discipline. If you have any stories or hints you want to pass along, please share them with me. They will likely fit well into this series and be a help to others.

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 2

It would seem that most, if not all, of us have to battle that natural tendency to gravitate toward laziness. For some the tendency will be greater than for others, but it is a problem to some degree or another. Last month, I began the Mom’s Corner with a question from a mom recognizing that she was giving in to her laziness and asking for suggestions on how to build self-discipline into her life.

The beginning point for us as we move from laziness to self-discipline is to have a biblical perspective on both laziness and on self-discipline. Last month we started laying a biblical groundwork for why we would care about being self-disciplined. In one of the e-mail responses to the last Mom’s Corner, a lady shared a verse she likes that lends itself well to a biblical reason for diligence. Her verse is part of the description of the Proverbs 31 woman. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness” (Proverbs 31:27). She isn’t lazy but rather self-disciplined. We could go a little further with that Proverbs 31 woman if we read the whole chapter. She is a great example to us of what a woman who doesn’t eat the bread of idleness is doing with her time. Since the Proverbs 31 woman had servant girls, she would have had the luxury of letting others do the work in her household. She could have been lazy if she had wanted to do so. Obviously, her servants were working as well, but the Proverbs 31 woman still chose to get up early and work hard.

Here is another passage I think will encourage us to know that when we follow the Lord Jesus obediently, we set aside laziness: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:10-12). Look at these words and phrases from this passage: “labor of love,” “ministered to the saints,” “do minister,” “show the same diligence,” “be not slothful.” What we do in serving in our homes is a labor of love, and it is ministering. We are encouraged to be diligent and not to be slothful. It is our faith in our Lord that enables us to do what He has called us to do, and we are to be patient as we fulfill that ministry; we are not to always feel anxious for it to be done so we can then do what we want to do, but we are to find joy in the work itself.

After last month’s Mom’s Corner, a very dear friend who writes every single month and comments on each Corner, shared this with me:

“I have a verse I have kept in my room for years … ‘Arise … and be doing…’ This helps me in those moments of weariness or indecision … don’t just sit there and vegetate…” Martha

I e-mailed her to ask permission to use part of her e-mail in the Mom’s Corner. When she wrote back, she gave me much more information about the verse and why it was motivating to her. I felt the verse and her thoughts on it fit well into our study, so I am including them here for you. This is the whole verse and where it is found: “Of the gold, the silver, and the brass, and the iron, there is no number. Arise therefore, and be doing, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Chronicles 22:16). Here is what Martha wrote:

“David spent the later part of his life laying aside the necessary building materials and resources that his son would need in continuing the work of the Lord in building the temple. David’s challenge to arise and be doing was the cry of a life that had been lived with purpose to please and honor God. It was for this reason that he could challenge his son to arise and be doing that work of the Lord. From 1 Chronicles 22:16, we get the feeling that there was no holding back in what David contributed toward his son building the temple.

“As we see in 2 Samuel 24:24, he would not give unto the Lord that which cost him nothing. ‘And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver’ (2 Samuel 24:24). David himself worked tirelessly at this task that he would not finish but would pass on for his son to complete in his son’s lifetime. Would to God that we would all see the work that God has given us to accomplish for His Name’s sake (the raising of our children and supporting of our husbands) with the same sense of devotion and dedication that David did. There would be a difference in the continuing work of God in the lives of our children as they take our place for Christ in this world.” Martha

I liked and was challenged by the insights Martha pulled out of these Scriptures. If you would like to read the complete account of these situations, you can find them in 1 Chronicles 22:1-19 and 2 Samuel 24:1-25. A huge motivation for us as mothers is to evaluate the outcomes of our decisions in our children’s lives. David had been busy setting the example before his son Solomon of doing what the Lord wanted him to do. He invested of his time, resources, and energy. He was the epitome of ”arise and be doing for the Lord.” When David told Solomon to arise and be doing, Solomon had not only the direction but also the model from his father to help him accomplish the task. What about our lives? Do we ”arise and be doing”? Are we modeling for them a lazy lifestyle or a self-disciplined one? We are continually examples our children will follow. Are we positive role models, or are we negative ones?

Martha looks at that verse on her wall at times when we would say she has every right to vegetate—times of indecision or weariness. Her thoughts turn to the Lord and what He wants for her time and her life. When she gets up and begins doing, the indecision is erased. If she is weary, the Lord will renew her energy, or He will lighten her load. He wants her focus on Him, not on herself.

I know from personal experience that I end up being blessed when I get up and get busy rather than wasting my time. That time God has given me is a gift, and He has given me stewardship of it. I can be a good and faithful servant with my time, or I can fritter it away with nothing to show for it.

We are still laying the groundwork for moving from being lazy to self-disciplined. My prayer is that as you think about these verses and evaluate your life, you will be motivated to set laziness and time wasters aside, and that you will want to spend yourself in His service. Since we will be moving into the practical ways we can grow from laziness to self-discipline, I would love to hear your stories and be able to share them in this series.

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 1

Once again in this month’s Mom’s Corner, I would like to use some questions that came in via e-mail as a springboard. Here is what this mom is struggling with:

I was wondering if you had any advice (or possibly you could address this in a Mom’s Corner) on how someone can improve her work ethic. I am terribly embarrassed to admit this, but I really feel like at times I can be lazy. I know there are things that need to be done, but I just don’t feel like doing them! I realize that this is a sinful attitude, and I want to change. Do other moms struggle with this? Would you have any tips on how I can improve or Bible verses that could encourage me in this area? Self-discipline is a character quality I would very much like to see flourish in my life, and I would like to pass it on to my children!

One thing I can tell you is that you are most certainly not alone and that many, if not most, moms struggle with laziness to some degree or another. I expect it is part of the sin nature of flesh that we have all inherited from Adam. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:17).

Let’s begin by discerning if self-discipline is important and something for which we would want to strive. We don’t find the word self-disciplined in the Bible so we have to determine its value based on other criteria. Would the Lord have us to be self-disciplined, or would it be legalistic to feel like we need to be busy and productive with our time? We often hear the word legalism used against those who desire to follow the Lord Jesus in a spiritual walk of obedience. Let’s look at this verse. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Our liberty is freedom from the bondage of sin, and we are not to use it to serve ourselves but rather to serve others. If we are going to be servants in our homes, to those we love, and to those we come in contact with, it will take time and discipline.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). Here we have “temperance” as a fruit of the Spirit. Strong’s Concordance defines temperance as “self-control—the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions.” When we master our desires and passions, then we will be focusing our energy on the tasks the Lord Jesus has called us to do.

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). In order to set aside laziness, which involves self-indulgence, we have to deny ourselves. We will choose against what we might in our flesh choose to do with our time and rather decide to obediently accomplish what the Lord has set in front of us.

“. . . for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour” (Ecclesiastes 2:10). The Lord wants us to have joy in the fruit of our hands rather than dread or avoid it. The work He sets before us is a blessing not a curse.

Scripture shows us that working, the opposite of being lazy, is positive. “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:9). For six days of the week, the Lord expects us to be diligently working, and on the seventh day, we get to worship and rest.

“The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin” (Proverbs 10:16). Our work, the fruit of self-discipline, leads to life. It allows us to complete what the Lord wants us to do, and it brings a sense of joy, peace, and contentment along with it. Sometimes we think that doing what we want to do leads to life but there is truth in this verse that it more often leads to sin.

Here is an interesting verse: “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury” (Proverbs 14:23). Do you know what penury means? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it is extreme poverty. In our situation of desiring self-discipline to help us accomplish our tasks of mothering and homemaking, we aren’t talking about profit and poverty. However, we can easily discern from this verse that working is beneficial while “talk of the lips,” which could be equated with laziness, is harmful.

Our labor would be the choice to set ourselves to the tasks that allow us to love and care for our husbands, our children, and our homes. I think the “talk of the lips” would equate to time wasters such as sitting doing nothing, reading novels, Internet browsing and blog hopping, frivolous shopping, or large amounts of time on the phone. There is nothing wrong with these activities in and of themselves, but when we do them rather than the tasks the Lord Jesus has called us to do, then we have a problem and are entering into the realm of laziness rather than self-discipline.

“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Proverbs 13:4). I think sluggard would be a good word to apply to us when we allow laziness to creep into our lives and rule them. In this verse, we see that the sluggard wants the good things that come from working and self-discipline, just like we moms want the fruit that would come in our lives and home from these positive characteristics. However, it is not the sluggard who reaches that goal, but rather it is the diligent—the mom who is self-disciplined.

This section of Scripture provides us with a great analogy for self-discipline. “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11).

The ant works hard even though there is no one watching him, holding him accountable, or telling him what to do and when to do it. For the sluggard, the ant is set out as an example from which he should learn and one he should follow. If he will learn from the ant, he will become wise. In studying the phrase “a little folding of the hands to sleep” in the Hebrew that section doesn’t mean physical sleep but rather just resting. Resting could certainly be one root of our laziness, if it becomes the habit of our lives, because usually we are avoiding work that we need to do and are choosing to do something that we consider more restful, whether it is less physically taxing or less emotional taxing. Again, please don’t misunderstand me. It is okay to rest by doing things like sitting and talking to your family, rocking on the back deck while you look at the garden, closing your eyes for an afternoon nap if you are tired. However, when our lifestyle and focus becomes that of resting and avoiding what needs to be done, that is when we have a problem.

As we begin this series that is examining a move from laziness to self-discipline, the biblical view of those two characteristics is essential. We don’t have to look far to see that the Bible directs us away from laziness that indulges the flesh and toward self-discipline that denies the flesh. Perhaps as you are in the Word this month, you will discover more Scripture that reinforces self-discipline. Next month we will move into the practical aspects of developing self-discipline.

Nothing Between

For many years, I was in bondage. It was a subtle bondage, and most people wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with what I was doing. However, what comes between my Lord Jesus and myself is bondage.

It began innocently enough many, many years ago by simply enjoying a Pepsi with my meal if we went out to eat. After a period of time, probably when we had a little more financial stability, I decided a Pepsi would be a treat when I cleaned house. So I started buying 24 packs of Pepsi at the grocery store, enabling me to have a cleaning-day supply at home.

I remember one day when I was pregnant talking to Steve on the phone while he was at work. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was tired. I told him a Pepsi would be a nice pick-me-up for some extra energy. He said, “Sure. Go ahead.” That one little statement from Steve was all I needed to push my way into having a Pepsi every afternoon—for that caffeine boost.

More time passed, and there was a day when I was weary in the morning. My solution was a Pepsi right then, and before long it was not only an afternoon habit but a morning one as well. If there was a special occasion, Steve might buy me a 2-liter so I could sip on Pepsi throughout the day. When we were out and around, I would get a soda from a convenience store if we stopped for gas or just because it sounded good.

In my mind I justified my Pepsis. I worked hard taking care of a large family and homeschooling. I needed energy boosts, and I felt I deserved a treat. Sometimes the Pepsi was an escape from the pressure and problems of the day rather than turning to the Lord for His comfort.

Are you familiar with the words to the beautiful hymn “Nothing Between”? It says:

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure—
Jesus is mine! There’s nothing between.

Chorus
Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, tho harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever—
He is my all! There’s nothing between.

There was “something between” for me. While it appeared to be a harmless habit of life, it had become a sinful, worldly pleasure for me because it had become so important. During the day, I thought about when I would get another Pepsi. I hoped when we were out that we would stop at the convenience store so I could buy a big drink from the soda fountain. If I didn’t have a Pepsi, I’d get a headache, so I was always trying to prevent that from happening.

While I greatly enjoyed drinking my Pepsi, I was truly in bondage. I fought spiritual battles over my Pepsi—defending it one moment and feeling condemned the next. I would drink a Pepsi telling the Lord that it would be my last one, but the next day I’d find myself rationalizing it again.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul understood what was important spiritually, and he took steps to keep his body in subjection. I knew that my body wasn’t in subjection. It was ruling me instead of me ruling it.

I knew the amount of soda I was consuming wasn’t good for my health or my teeth. It was an unnecessary expense, and if I didn’t have a Pepsi, I was guaranteed a caffeine headache. I planned to stop drinking Pepsi many times but would end up deciding I’d wait for another day.

Twice I succeed in getting off the caffeine for several weeks or a couple of months only to end up back on it. I thought I could start drinking the Pepsi again, and keep it in moderation. Although I would begin with small amounts, before long I was back to where I had been before.

I remember a friend telling me about how she had stopped smoking. She was trying to stop but was out gardening when a very strong urge to smoke hit her. She cried out to the Lord and said, “If You want me to stop smoking, Lord, You will have to take this craving from me.” And He did.

I thought to myself. “Lord, if You will do it for her, You can do it for me.” That’s how I started praying. However, in my life the Lord hasn’t zapped me from my sinful directions into a righteous path, although I keep hoping it will work like that. It would be so much easier.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse showed me that the Lord doesn’t stop making the temptation a temptation. Rather He provides the way of escape. Then I have to decide if I will take the way of escape or give in to the temptation.

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Here I saw again that I had to make a choice. What would I yield to—righteous or unrighteousness?

In my spiritual battle with my sin, I knew the Lord was telling me the Pepsi had become an idol in my life. That was evidenced by my wanting to stop drinking it but not being able to and by the focus it had taken for me. Finally, the Lord’s conviction of my sin was so strong that I said in my heart, “It isn’t worth it. I don’t want anything between my soul and the Savior.”

I made the decision to stop yielding to unrighteous, and God’s grace was sufficient. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

On December 31, 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. It was a miserable two days as I suffered through the caffeine withdrawal, but I kept crying out to Him for His grace and strength. The joy I have experienced this past year and a half since being freed me from my bondage is completely worth the discomfort of the withdrawal.

The sodas had become a habit for me. I would drink a soda—when I was happy, when I was sad, in the morning, in the afternoon, on special occasions, when we were running errands—there was almost always a reason to have a soda, and it was all part of the habit of my life. After getting off the Pepsi, when I hit those habitual times, I longed for a soda at first, but every time I put my thoughts on how much I desired the Lord Jesus and how much I didn’t want to be back in bondage. I asked for His help as the days went by. I knew from my previous attempts at freedom that I could justify starting again and soon be back into the old habits.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Experientially, in the release from Pepsi drinking, I found this to be true, but only as I yielded to righteousness and chose to take the way of escape from the temptation. It didn’t happen automatically. The desire wasn’t removed from me. I had to fight a spiritual battle with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of escape was to care more about the Lord Jesus than about my sinful pleasure.

I want to make it clear as I bring this Mom’s Corner to a close that I am not saying drinking a Pepsi is sin. Instead, I am telling you how something that isn’t inherently sinful in itself became sin for me because of the focus it had taken in my heart. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). I knew the Lord was convicting me that I shouldn’t continue the Pepsi habit in my life. I was aware that it wasn’t pleasing to Him. Yet, for a long time, I allowed my flesh to rule my heart.

I share this story because I know many of those who read the Mom’s Corner are in bondage to something. It might be what others would call sin, but it might be like my Pepsi drinking—something that no one else would consider wrong. From the moms who share their spiritual struggles with me, I know that this list could include soda, coffee, smoking, other treats, an addiction to the computer or TV, and many others. Each of us knows our own hearts. We are aware of what it is that comes between us and our Savior. Don’t think that because you have tried for freedom before that you just give in to it, live with it, justify it, and say it’s the way you are. I had tried before as well. It took becoming more and more miserable in my sin for me to get to the place where I would choose the way of escape.

My heart’s desire is to encourage each of us to be free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Hardly a day goes by that I don’t rejoice in my freedom and liberty from the flesh. I never want to return to that bondage; the joy of nothing between is too sweet. Would you be free as well?

Self Discipline in Our Lives and Our Children’s

We regularly receive e-mails from homeschooling moms with difficulties who are asking for advice. A common thread frequently runs through these letters: the moms are lacking self-discipline. These moms face many tasks each day, but they are missing the self-discipline to carry them out. Therefore, they suffer, and perhaps their families as well, the consequences for whatever they choose not to accomplish. In addition, the moms experience the accompanying discouragement that goes with not doing what they want to do and know they should be doing. Sometimes in the e-mails, the moms may actually define lack of self-discipline as a root of their troubles, or it may simply be evident from the description of the struggles.

In Children’s Lives

Perhaps a significant factor with self-discipline problems stems from one’s childhood. Our culture has become ingrained with the philosophy of “let children be children.” This sounds great, but what is the long-term outcome? — adult children with little, if any, self-discipline. We certainly don’t want to rob a child of his childhood, but at the same time a parent’s job is to prepare that child for life. If all a child ever does is to play, he will not have acquired the needed skills and the self-discipline that would equip him to be successful in his adult years. This is quite evident in the lives of many moms who are dealing with self-discipline problems. This character, ability, or skill—whatever you want to call it—was not nurtured, encouraged, and grown in childhood.

About a year ago, when we did a survey to collect information for our Managers of Their Chores book, we were surprised by the results. Seventy percent of the moms who responded said they weren’t prepared for their roles as wives and mothers. They attributed that to not having had to do chores as a child. The thirty percent who indicated they were prepared for being wives and mothers said it was because of their parents’ persistence in giving them chores and making sure they were done. When one evaluates this in light of the problems homeschooling moms have with self-discipline, the connection is quite amazing. What would the outcome have been in these moms’ lives had their parents thought chores were a benefit for their children and been committed to helping them learn to handle that responsibility? I believe it is likely that the self-discipline needed to manage a home and homeschool would have been developed in these girls’ lives.

If we want to help avoid difficulties with self-discipline for our children when they become adults, we need to base parenting decisions on a goal of raising a self-disciplined adult. This means we will be giving our children age-appropriate responsibilities and helping them begin to develop the thought processes necessary for self-discipline. It starts from the very simple: requiring the child to get up in the morning when he is awakened plus communicating to the child why this is important.

The children will have chores assigned to them throughout the day. There will be times when they are expected to stop their play to do their chores. We will ask our children to do a thorough job in their chores. We want to challenge them to tasks that cause them to have to apply self-discipline. We will seek rather than avoid opportunities to develop self-discipline because we desire that our children grow up to be self-disciplined adults. These years, while our children are in our homes, provide us with occasions to help them in this area rather than letting them flounder in their adult years without the self-discipline they will so greatly need and want.

I am encouraged to be committed to applying the time and effort into our children’s chore system when I see benefit in it that goes beyond simply accomplishing what needs to be done in our home. When I realize that working toward the children’s diligence and self-sufficiency in their chores is helping them not only with practical skills for their adult lives, but also with the self-discipline they need in any area the Lord Jesus calls them to, then I can view this as a necessary part of our days.

In Our Lives

Does Scripture give us any direction concerning self-discipline? The word “self-discipline” isn’t even found in the King James Version of the Bible. However, I wonder if another word for self-discipline in a Christian’s life might not be “obedience.” Consider this. If I choose not to get up in the morning when I know I should get up, that is in reality disobedience to the Lord Jesus, Who is the director of my life.

I usually view this type of choice with seemingly minor implications—sleep in or get up—as a decision that, as an adult, I am free to independently make. While I might not be pleased with the outcome when I miss out on my morning time with the Lord Jesus, don’t get my exercise in, and start school late because I didn’t get up, I will simply sigh, blame it on a lack of self-discipline, and plan to do better tomorrow. Telling myself that I struggle with self-discipline sounds much better than to say that I am disobedient to the Lord Jesus.

Perhaps disobedience is born out of years of making excuses as to why we can’t do whatever it might be that the Lord has called us to do—whether it is going to bed at a reasonable time, getting up with the alarm clock, accomplishing school, eating a healthy diet, or keeping the house clean. Because we haven’t thought of not having self-discipline as being disobedient, we can easily justify continuing down the paths we have been walking most comfortably during our lives.

Paul encourages us in the area of self-discipline. He says, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). The word “temperate” in this verse means “an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, or to self-control” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words). The word “subjection” means “to make a slave and to treat as a slave, i.e., with severity, subject to stern and rigid discipline” (Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary). In these verses and with these particular words, I see Paul living a life with an eternal purpose that causes him to choose self-control and self-discipline—obedience to the Lord Jesus—and implying we should do the same.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 Paul tells us, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The Greek word for “sound mind” in this verse is the same Greek word translated “temperate” in 1 Corinthians 9:25. We have been given a spirit of self-control—self-discipline, if you will.

Just as Paul was determined to be temperate and bring his body into subjection to serve the eternal purposes set before him, we should be as well. Everything we do in our homes with our families—from our personal time with Jesus to our homeschooling, relationships, and homemaking—is part of the Lord Jesus’ direction for our lives. We decide whether we will be obedient or not. For example, there are morning tasks that must be accomplished before school is started each day. For some the temptation is to go to the computer to check e-mail, blogs, or message boards, or engage in some other unnecessary task—for just a minute. However, that minute easily turns into fifteen minutes or half an hour, ending up robbing us of needed homeschooling time.

The Spirit has a way of prompting, nudging, and not allowing us to be content in a life void of self-discipline and obedience. For the mom who struggles with self-discipline, it becomes a choice in her life. Will she follow the dictates of her flesh, or will she follow the promptings of the Spirit? Will she be obedient or disobedient? We can be sure that it is the Spirit Who puts the need and desire in her heart to read the Bible and pray. This probably requires her to obediently get out of bed in the morning when the alarm clock goes off so that she doesn’t miss her personal time alone with Jesus. I believe if we evaluate most, if not all, of the areas requiring self-discipline in our lives, we would agree that they are the promptings and directings of the Spirit, and they require our obedience.

Often the jobs in our lives for which we must be obedient are the ones that are truly the desires of our hearts and cause us to feel the most peaceful, content, and happy when we are accomplishing them. At the same time, because they also may be more difficult, more time consuming, less natural, and more labor intensive, we find ourselves taking the easy way out by avoiding them. We create, by our own doing or maybe not doing, the environment that can make us feel like failures.

In our book Managers of Their Chores, we discuss the benefits of chores to our children, their biblical basis, and what is needed in Mom’s life (and Dad’s) to facilitate the process. If the Lord Jesus is putting concern in your heart over your lack of self-discipline or you simply want motivation and help with a chore system to encourage your children to learn self-discipline and obedience, Managers of Their Chores is a starting place.

There is so much said in Scripture about obedience. Therein lay our self-discipline problems. We haven’t realized that self-discipline really isn’t the true issue at all, but rather it is about obedience to what the Lord Jesus is calling us to do.

May I encourage each of us to evaluate areas of our lives in which we don’t have the self-discipline and obedience we know we should have. Then may we take it to the Lord Jesus, confessing it as sin, and asking for His grace and strength to change and grow. Our example is the starting place for our children. As the Lord Jesus is working in our lives, we can begin helping our children down the path of self-discipline and obedience in a purposeful manner. We can give them responsibilities and chores and communicate to them why these are important in their lives now and in the future. We reap what we sow. Will we sow seeds that will reap a harvest of self-discipline in our children’s lives and in our own lives?