I was recently having lunch with a group of local pastors and the conversation turned to the importance of discipline in daily habits. We specifically talked about personal discipline as it relates to time management. Since that conversation I have been thinking more deeply about this and I believe it is something many people struggle with, so I have put some of my thoughts together in this blog post.
We all know how crazy and busy life can get. It is all too easy to feel like there are not enough hours in the day and not enough days in the week to accomplish everything that we are trying to get done. Sometimes the issue is that we are trying to cram too much into our days and weeks, and this can be a real problem. Sometimes we need to simplify our lives and learn to say “No” to things. However, for most of us there are times that we struggle to accomplish things because of a lack of self-discipline. For myself I struggle sometimes to strike the right balance in my time management as I seek time to spend with God, time with my wife and children, my job as a pastor, time to workout, time to manage finances, and do projects around the home, as well as helping my wife with household chores, and putting time into relationships with family and friends…the list goes on and it can all feel very overwhelming at times, but a disciplined approach to life is a huge help to me.
I tend towards being very organized in my to do lists each day. I also find that the earlier I get up, in general, the more productive my day is. There are certain things I do every morning when I get up and there are certain things that I do at the end of my day. There is also a specific approach that I take each week regarding my work. I realize that disciplined time management looks different for everyone, so rather than share the specifics of my routine, I am sharing 5 reasons why I believe that personal discipline is a good thing:
1 - It helps you utilize your time wisely.
Having a disciplined approach to your time helps you balance your priorities and make sure that you are not wasting time. I love this passage of Scripture from Ephesians 5:15-17 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” When I approach my time with discipline it means I spend less time on things that are meaningless.
2 - It helps you stay on top of goals.
I like to set goals. It’s good to have goals that are short-term and goals that are long-term. When you practice self-discipline, you are paying attention to the accomplishment of goals and evaluating your goals and adjusting them when necessary.
3 - It helps you get more done.
It sounds so obvious but still needs to be mentioned. When you go about a day with no structure to it, you tend to get less done. When you have structure in your day you accomplish more. If you don’t believe me, try an experiment for two days. Proverbs 21:5 says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
4 - Maintaining a routine is good for your health.
When you have a disciplined approach to time management you will likely sleep better, eat better, exercise more, and have less stress. I know my body likes it when I stay true to a routine. Also, it is important to remember to have some rest as part of your weekly routine.
5 - It keeps you doing your best instead of comparing yourself with others.
It is can be so easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others. This is not what we should be doing. This can cause us to feel discouraged when we don’t measure up to what others seem to be doing, and on the flipside, it can cause our hearts to be prideful if we think we are doing better than someone else. We ought to be simply striving to do our best with God’s help and not play the comparison game.
Here are some quotes from former presidents of the United States regarding self-discipline:
“Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all.” – George Washington
“With self-discipline, most anything is possible.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“If I want to be great, I have to win the victory over myself…self-discipline.” – Harry S. Truman
In Titus 1:8 The Apostle Paul is listing out the characteristics a pastor (and really anyone) should have and he writes, “… hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” I would encourage everyone to work on improving their personal discipline. It seems like it would make life more boring and tedious, but in my experience, the complete opposite is true.