Self Discipline: A Virtue for Successful Leaders

July 30, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Kristen Cannon running half-marathon in St Louis (Picture taken in downtown St. Louis as my daughter, Kristen Cannon [top right, pick shirt, black pants, stripped knee-high socks] finishes her first half-marathon in the "Go! St. Louis Marathon" -  f/4 @ 80 mm, 1/1000, ISO 100)

"Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of discipline.  In this passage he emphasized that as followers of Christ our spiritual lives form the core of our character.  As we spend time in the disciplines of the spirit, we're to be like runners or boxers.  During the course of a race, runners do not stagger from one lane to another.  They rivet their attention on the finish line and run a disciplined race toward it.  So also boxers train with purpose so the can absorb powerful blows without falling.  They build up their physical stamina so that their legs will hold out for the final rounds.

Paul trained for his daily spiritual journey like a world-class athlete.  Why?  Because he wanted to have the self-control to finish the race without being disqualified.  Godly leaders need to cultivate this same kind of spiritual fitness.  Doing so can and will affect others areas of your leadership life - how we treat others, where we go for answers to major decisions, and the skills we use in accomplishing our daily  tasks.

If you want to be an effective leader, identify the habits you need to build into your life so you can lead with diligence - habits such as physical fitness, balance between work and home, financial and personal accountability, proactivity in workplace, etc.  Strap on your shoes and get going.  Disciplined habits will give you the momentum you need to not only move forward, but also to run your earthly race with strength and purpose. 

Read I Corinthians 9:24-27 again to see how this amazing man disciplined his life so magnificently that he became God's champion!


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