Discipline is not negative! Embrace spiritual disciplines and your life WILL be better.
In Part One, I quoted Dallas Willard in his insightful book The Spirit of the Disciplines, Understanding How God Changes Lives. He states, “A discipline for the spiritual life is when the dust of history is blown away, nothing but an activity undertaken to bring us into more effective cooperation with Christ and his Kingdom.”
We looked at the practices and benefits of meditation, silence, prayer, simplicity, and solitude disciplines. (Did you try these and if you did, are you not a bit more uplifted in your walk?)
Next, we will cover service, confession, worship, and celebration disciplines.
Society has created the term “servant leadership” to denote a management style focused upon the idea of a manager not only mentoring and helping the workers but also serving in the community. Not just being a “boss.” This attitude is Christ-like. Jesus served. His very existence on earth was one of serving individuals. We can emulate Him. Spending time in service to your community, church or a stranger encountered lifts us. We can serve, and should, someone without it being part of our cultivation of a discipline. However, we can use service to help us address unhealthy arrogance, possessiveness, envy, resentment, or covetousness. I have found serving without expectation of reward, envelops me in a cloak of well-being for my soul. Watch for ways to serve today; test it and see.
Confession of sins is personal. However, confession to someone we trust to hold us accountable for our spiritual lives can be remarkably freeing. We lay down the burden of hiding and pretending which normally takes up an inordinate amount of our time and our efforts. This activity builds humility in our lives. We can let people know just exactly who we are, enjoying a brotherly love and a rare closeness not dependent upon the façade we show the world.
Study of God’s Word, experiencing God’s world, interaction with God’s people are all opportunities to develop habits of worship and celebration. Worship is the understanding of who God is, recognizing His qualities and accomplishments. Worship is the human response to the divine initiative. Examples of God’s handiwork are everywhere in nature. Sometimes we need to look a bit closer and realize His glory in the people we meet and their actions. Worshiping also means filling our hearts and minds with Jesus’ actions and words; learn His vocabulary. During the day I try to punctuate each thought and action with praise, adoration, and thanksgiving. The focus of worship comes easily when God is kept in your mind.
Celebration comes naturally with worship. The side-effect of worship is a celebration. On Easter this year, we attended a sunrise service for the first time in many, many years. It was glorious. Being outside, among others singing and praising God for the gift of His Son. It was truly a celebration of "new birth" for each one of us. The following day the celebration continued in my family as we relived our experience and restated our conviction that Jesus had risen indeed. Every sunrise provides me the opportunity to thank God for His resurrection. Try it yourself when you experience God, celebrate the event. Soon, you will be celebrating all day…what a great way to live.
Dallas Willard sums it up best with this paragraph taken from his chapter The Disciplines and the Power Structures of this World. “The worldly system of understanding tries to produce justice, peace, and prosperity directly in people’s lives by placing restraints upon what would harm them…The gospel of Christ, by contrast, comes to create a new person pervaded by the positive realities of faith, hope, and love—toward God primarily and therefore toward all men and women and creatures. From this positive transformation of the self, justice, peace, and prosperity can result as God’s rule is fulfilled in human life.”
Go and make this a better world!