Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “discipline”

God’s Discipline – Ouch!

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

 

Living a Disciplined Life #2

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  He began to dedicate his life in preparation for fulfilling this calling.

“The study of Chinese, also, was entered upon with ardor.  A grammar of that formidable language would have cost more than twenty dollars and a dictionary at least seventy-five.  He could afford neither.  But with a copy of the Gospel of Luke in Chinese, by patiently comparing brief verses with their equivalent in English, he found out the meaning of more than six hundred characters.  These he learned and made into a dictionary of his own, carrying on at the same time other lines of study.

‘I have begun to get up at five in the morning [he wrote to his sister at school] and find it necessary to go to bed early.  I must study if I mean to go to China.  I am fully decided to go, and am making every reparation I can.  I intend to rub up my Latin, to learn Greek and the rudiments of Hebrew, and get as much general information as possible.  I need your prayers.’

“…’having now the twofold object in view [he recalled] of accustoming myself to endure hardness, and of economizing in order to help those among whom I was laboring in the Gospel, I soon found that I could live upon very much less than I has previously thought possible.  Butter, milk, and other luxuries I ceased to use, and found that by living mainly on oatmeal and rice, with occasional variations, a very small sum was sufficient for my needs.  In this way I had more than two-thirds of my income available for other purposes, and my experience was that the less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become.’” [i]

The prophet Jeremiah once complained to God about the difficulties in life he experienced.  God replied,  “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”    Jeremiah 12:5

God’s purpose in allowing those trying times was to prepare Jeremiah for his ministry in the future.  He had to endure these difficulties in order that he might be better prepared for the times ahead.

God’s training program is to discipline us for the purpose he has for us.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:  ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,  because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?  If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.  Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!  Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.  No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”                      Hebrews 12:5-11

The words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ find there roots in the same word.  To follow Christ as His disciple means that we are called to disciplined living.  Disciplined living, like sacrificial living, is a daily choice

The heights of great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.           Wordsworth

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

Living a Disciplined Life #1

The disciple of Jesus will find that following Him requires a life of discipline and focus.  Discipline does not mean drudgery, but it does mean saying “no” to good things in order that we might give ourselves to the best.  It is the choice between the good, better, and best that requires a will of steel.  We must focus on the goal for which we are called and dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal.

E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary-statesman to India, said, “Your capacity to say ‘no’ determines your capacity to say ‘yes’ to greater things.”  St. Augustine prayed three things for himself, “A heart of flame towards God, a heart of love towards men, and a heart of steel towards myself.”

If we are to follow hard after Christ; if we are to be used by Christ, we must prepare ourselves.  This preparation and training can be rigorous and stressful.  No champion athlete wins without rigorous training, and no champion for Christ will make an impact without paying the price of preparation.  It will mean disciplining our desires and bringing our bodies under control.  It will mean long hours of time alone with God and His Word.  The disciplined life will say to self, “Others may, I cannot.”  It will sense a destiny that requires the best we have to give.

Hudson Taylor surrendered himself to God’s will as a young man, and God impressed upon his heart that his life would be spent for China.  “From that moment life was unified in one great purpose and prayer.  For Hudson Taylor was ‘not disobedient to the heavenly vision,’ and to him obedience to the will of God was a very practical matter.

“At once he began to prepare, as well as he could, for a life that would call for physical endurance.  He took more exercise in the open air, exchanged his feather bed for a hard mattress and was watchful not to be self-indulgent at table.  Instead of going to church twice on Sunday, he gave up the evening to visiting in the poorest parts of town, distributing tracts and holding cottage meetings.  In crowded lodging-house kitchens he became a welcome figure, and even on the race course his bright face and kindly words opened the way for many a straight message.  All this led to more Bible study and prayer, for he soon found that there is One and One alone who can make us ‘fishers of men.’ [i]

[i]  Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret  by Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Moody Press  Chicago, Illinois   p. 22-26

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