- Tara Ferguson, PhD
Experimenting with Discipline….Ewwww, I Don’t Wanna!
A book review by: Shannon Roberts CSAC-R (guest blogger)
Guest blogger, Shannon Roberts CSAC-R, is a recent graduate from Liberty University’s Professional Counseling Master’s program. Shannon is currently in the process of getting her LPCA, pursuing toward full licensure as a professional counselor. She has recently gotten a puppy, in the process of pursuing her dream of having a therapy dog for hospital visits, crisis response, and as a therapeutic intervention in a clinical setting. You can learn more about her at her blog here: weareroberts.wordpress.com
A little while back I read the book "Divine Direction" by Craig Groeschel. This book has had a lasting impact like few books have had in my lifetime. The book focuses mostly on being more disciplined in life, and the importance of discipline. I personally shutter at the word "discipline." Craig Groeschel is someone I have always listened to on topics of leadership, growth, and discipline. (He has a "leadership podcast" as well that I highly recommend for anyone in any position of leadership.)
While Craig Groeschel is a pastor of a very large church* and this book is written from a Christian perspective, being that it is written by a Christian individual, I feel this book has practical and applicable steps for anyone pursuing more discipline in their life.
As I read this book, I applied the suggestions to my life in an experimental way, so as to see if they really “worked.” Read on for the results of my experiments below. Some interesting behavioral trends were revealed to me that I never expected!
Experiment #1: The first chapter discusses starting a daily discipline. The challenge is to just start doing one thing that you are not doing on a consistent basis. For myself, I chose originally to wash my face every day.... don’t judge me. This was a task I "tried" to do on a daily basis, but just fell short. So... now it's been 6 months or more since I read this book and I have literally washed my face every day since I made that decision. I told my husband about it so he would hold me accountable as well, even though he thought it was silly. Fun fact -guess who ended up washing HIS face every day too...that's right, Hayden.
Anyhoo, back to my experiment, it was amazing the way washing my face every day led me to be more disciplined overall - drinking more water, flossing daily, and so much more. It just made me want to be better. The surprising conclusion to this experiment is that just choosing one small daily discipline practice, that takes literally one minute, can have effects beyond just that one behavior. It seems that the intention and act of being disciplined itself had to power to infuse the character trait of discipline into my life. Wow, I did not expect that!
Experiment #2: The focus of the very next chapter is to stop doing something that you've been doing that you don't want to do anymore. The key is picking one thing. Just one thing to stop doing. Some challenging examples to limit by stopping for a period of time were social media, the need for control, and unhealthy habits. Here is an excerpt of the question posed...
“What’s the next decision you need to make to change the direction of your life? What is it that you need to stop so that you can move forward in the story you want to live? Pick one thing you know you need to stop doing in order to change your story’s direction. Write it down on a piece of paper.”**
When I took on this experiment to give up something I didn’t want to do anymore I scanned the suggestions he gave for examples. I recognized that every time I sat down to eat I was pulling out my phone. So I decided to stop doing that. I decided that if I was going into a restaurant with my husband or a friend I would leave my phone in my purse and not take it out. If I was sitting at home for lunch by myself, then I would leave my phone in another room and sit down with a book instead. In this book Craig Groeschel is keen on getting you to pick an external behavior and analyze the internal difficulties it could cause. In choosing to not have my phone out while eating I realized I enjoyed my time more. I also was slowing down, which was a much needed change for me.
Now since I’m an honest person, I have to tell you that this behavior did not continue. I eventually just totally forgot about this resolve. In writing this blog I am challenged to try again, but perhaps this behavior or pattern was not that important after all. Maybe there are others….perhaps I’ll ask my husband perhaps for some tips….of course, with the disclaimer that he may only choose one! It would probably be to stop destroying my closet every time I have to change by not putting the clothes back on the hangers that I choose not to wear. …He’s mentioned it a time or two. 😉
Experiment #3: The next chapter was challenging the reader to “stay” when you really want to “quit”. He asserted that the bigger and more impactful your purpose is in this world, the more you will feel the pressure and temptation to quit. The question he posed for the big life altering change questions we all go through when we want to quit is to ask yourself, “Am I choosing to give up because it is the right thing, or just because it seems like leaving is easier?” (Craig Groeschel, Divine Direction). I’m going to cut to the chase here and tell you that I failed this experiment miserably because I, ironically, chose to quit doing these challenges in the book when I should have been staying with the goal of completing experiment #3!
If you’re beginning to see the pattern of opposite chapter themes, you may be able to guess the next challenge. The next challenge was to “go” when you need to go. The author challenged that “Even if you don’t feel like anything is different right at this moment, it’s always a good idea to keep your heart prepared for change”.
And on that note, with no obvious details to share regarding this last challenge, you may ascertain what I did here….and now with my tail tucked firmly between my legs, I’m going to “go” now, since I apparently am not good at discipline. ….but hey, my face is reeeeallllly clean, guys.
Summary and Conclusions: Overall this book is all about helping you realize that the daily choices you make effect the story you are writing for your life. What story do you want to tell? What do you want your story to be? Is there a story of victory? Maybe not yet. Maybe making a choice today, even a seemingly unrelated one, could lead to this big story of victory.
Is there a story of struggle? Of hardships that were out of your control? How you choose to respond to your circumstances will define your story. What do you want your story to be?
I have three challenges for you to choose from. Maybe you go from here and do them all! Great for you! Maybe you can only do one right now. That's ok! Maybe you do none. Hey, who am I to judge?!
Challenge one, pick one thing to start doing. Pick something simple, something doable, and choose to do that every day from here to 6 months or a year from now! I believe this will begin a chain reaction for you that you have needed, that we all need!
Challenge two, pick one thing to stop doing. If you can't think of anything to stop doing, look at anything that takes precedence over other relationships that are important to you in your life. What is getting in the way? Or what do the people you care about and trust say you need to stop doing?
Challenge three, go try this book!
No matter what challenge you choose, if you pick a challenge and you miss a day of the discipline, or you pick up that thing you said you were going to put down, it's ok! Just get back up. Get back on track! Just cuz you fell doesn't mean you should stay down.
*Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Life.church, the church who created the You Version Bible app. For more information on his church check out, https://www.life.church/who-we-are/ .
**Excerpt From: Craig Groeschel. “Divine Direction.” Apple Books. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/divine-direction/id1125830532?mt=11