For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11 ESV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 ESV
Maturity, fruitfulness, and the discipline of God are linked. Hebrews 12 describes the process of God disciplining those whom He loves and that He does it for good. The discipline of God is intended for good – to yield good fruit in our lives. Thus, we should not be surprised by it and must embrace it – lean into it, rather than seek to run from it.
We note that when in the midst of pain and hard times, discipline does not feel good. It’s not pleasant and does not seem to be good at the moment. But afterwards, when the time of the Lord’s discipline ends, we see its benefit in our lives and leadership. What does the Lord’s discipline look like in the life of a Kingdom leader?
The pruning of the Lord’s discipline is a taking away or a cutting out of our lives. He intends to create even more dependency upon Him through it. While the Lord is quite creative in the means He chooses to discipline those whom He loves, here are several common means that He uses to shape the lives of those He desires to be even more fruitful.
1. Loss – loss of position, influence, job, finances, relationships
2. Affliction – physical illness, harassment, on-going conflict
3. Opposition – spiritual, emotional, and physical opposition, ‘headwinds’
The Lord can even use our adversary to further His plan of discipline in our lives. Look at the life of Job and how God allowed him, within limits, to suffer loss, affliction, and opposition from his ‘friends.’ Yet, the Lord preserved Job and restored him in the end.
The discipline of the Lord is not pleasant – not something we look forward to or get excited about entering into. Yet, when it comes, and it does come, we must receive it, submit to it, and trust Him who is good and always does what is good. We will see the wisdom of God and experience the fruitfulness He intends as we persevere through it.
Don’t be surprised by the Lord’s discipline. It comes to all of His children. He is not punishing you. Rather, He will see you through it and make you and your leadership even more fruitful because of it.
… a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench… Isaiah 42:3 ESV