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.

A Godly Legacy – Part 6

Driving south from Leavenworth on Highway 7, which is a divided four-lane road with a speed limit of sixty-five miles per hour, I normally expect to see something that I would rather not. Due to the small town nature of Leavenworth, you often don’t have the big-city, fast flowing traffic. You will have some that drive the limit and others who don’t. What is disappointing and quite common is to find a fifty-five-miles-per-hour driver happy and content in the left lane leading a long line of cars who would really prefer to be driving sixty-five-miles-per-hour.

I’ve often wondered what goes through a slow, left-lane driver’s mind? Doesn’t he see the line of cars behind him? Doesn’t he care that it is illegal? Does he have any consideration for others? Is he taking pleasure in keeping others back?

In this Dad’s Corner series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5) we have been discussing leaving a godly legacy.

Do we deeply desire to leave a godly legacy? Do we yearn for children who are dynamic followers of Jesus Christ? If so, what price are we willing to pay? If the answer is “everything!” that is the right answer. Satan will bring along compromises to derail us from raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). A major tactic of his is to cause Dad to be the hindrance to the family’s growth—in essence being a slow, spiritual left-lane driver.

I’ve seen it often where Dad is the one who isn’t growing spiritually and has no (obvious or expressed) interest to even though as the head of the family, he is the one to be the leader. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Sadly, the one in front is no longer a “leader” if he becomes a spiritual hindrance, just like the left-lane drivers who keep others from advancing.

Assuming the slow left-lane driver doesn’t realize he is a hindrance, how do we know if we are the ones holding back our families’ spiritual growth? First, I would encourage you not to trust your feelings in this. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Since the heart is deceitful above all things, saying we don’t feel like we are hindering our family is like asking a liar his opinion as to whether he is a liar.

Therefore the best way to determine whether we are a spiritual left-lane driver is to ask those we might be slowing down. I suggest the first one to speak with is your wife. She will have a great vantage point and usually have some thoughts on the matter. Has she had unfulfilled spiritual desires for the family? Is she being spiritually encouraged by you? Is she being challenged by your spiritual walk? Next you can go to your children and begin asking them questions like the ones you have asked your wife. Have any of the children expressed disappointment about your level of spirituality? There were times when I have asked these kinds of questions of my family, and even though I didn’t always enjoy their responses, God used their feedback to convict me.

With conviction needs to come action. When the Lord points out where we are hindrances to spiritual growth in our families rather than being the leaders God desires us to be, we begin by repenting. Then we cry out to the Lord to help us make the necessary changes. We go to the Word and study areas that will be instrumental in the new direction. We ask our families to hold us accountable for the steps we are taking.

I wonder if another hindrance to many dads today being a spiritual leader of the family is not wanting to be too extreme in their Christian walk because they consider some Christians to be fanatical about Jesus. On the other hand, dads also don’t want to be spiritually cold or to be seen as lost. The natural tendency is then to want to cluster in the middle where they would not be seen as weird, hot, on-fire believers nor as cold, faithless unbelievers. Therefore many appear to be content to be lukewarm. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). Regardless, of whether it is uncomfortable or not, we need to be the ones in our family who are exuberant as we follow Jesus so that we can lead our children into a dynamic godly legacy.

Jesus will never direct a person down the wide easy path. It will always be the strait and narrow one. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). The road that Jesus takes us along will not be popular. If we want a lot of company and fellowship in this life, we would most likely have to walk the wide path.

As we continue to focus on how we can have a godly legacy, we must choose not to be the slow left-lane driver who holds others back, especially when it is our children who are being spiritually hindered. Instead, in our families, we will be the left-lane driver, who moves into that lane when it is time to pass, keeps his speed up, and then returns to the right lane. He is leading his family by setting the example with a heart fully engaged on the Lord Jesus Christ. He won’t be content to stay in the comfortable middle but rather is pressing on to his destination, which includes that godly legacy. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).

Next month we will conclude this series on a godly legacy.