A stunt pilot was selling rides in his single engine airplane. There was only room for the pilot and two passengers. A preacher wanted to try it, but also take his wife along at no extra charge.
At first the pilot wouldn’t agree. But not wanting to miss out on a chance to make some cash, the pilot said, “I’ll take you both up for the price of one if you promise not to utter a sound during the entire flight. If you make any noise, the price is doubled.” The preacher agreed.
The pilot quickly proceeded to put the plane through all sorts of stunts and maneuvers designed to make the bravest person tremble. But the passengers didn’t make a sound.
Exhausted, the pilot finally landed. As the preacher climbed out, the pilot said, “I made moves up there that frightened even me and yet you never said a word. You must have incredible self-control.”
The preacher thanked the pilot and then said, “I must admit that there was one time when you almost had me.”
“When was that?” asked the pilot.
“When my wife fell out of the plane!”
Our word of the week is “discipline.”
Discipline is the ability to control one’s self. It has to do with correction. Restraint. And will power. Discipline involves training. Exertion. And rigorous exercise.
Paul compared the Christian to an Olympic athlete who commits to rigorous training “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (ICor. 9:27 ).
Learning self-discipline is important to the success of the athlete. The student. The business person. The Christian. Thomas Huxley was right when he wrote, “The most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a person’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson a person learns thoroughly.”
Self discipline gets us out of bed in the morning. Prods punctuality. Practices self-denial. Welcomes responsibility. Accepts criticism. Breaks bad habits. And shapes character
Consider these three areas where discipline is needed.
It takes discipline to control your thoughts. It doesn’t happen accidentally. It takes work. It requires our constant attention to what we are reading and watching. It demands periodic renewal, revival and refreshment. Paul exhorted, “Be renewed in the attitude of your mind” (Eph 4:23). With so many impure, dishonorable, and ungodly things that vie for our attention, continual self-discipline is needed in order to focus on the things that will build us up in the faith. The philosopher Plato wrote, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” That begins in the mind.
People who smoke have told me they want to quit, but can’t. Why? Lack of self-discipline. All habits, good or bad, can be traced back to discipline or the lack of it. Rob Gilbert said, “First we form our habits, then our habits form us.” Whether the habits are good or bad depends on our self-discipline.
It requires great effort to break old habits or acquire new ones. Bible study is a habit. Prayer is a habit. Church attendance is a habit. But each one demands a discipline of time, effort and priority to make those habits permanent.
Too often we say or do something that we regret, but justify it by saying, “I couldn’t help it.” While it may be difficult to refrain from improper words or actions, it is possible. A bad temper is evidence of a lack of discipline. Idle words that hurt or impugn others indicate a failure to practice self-control. We can control our emotions if we choose to exercise strict self-discipline.
Indeed Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt. Everest was right, “It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman