Executing with Discipline: Mastering the Art of Self-Control

If you want to execute with discipline, you have to master the art of self-control.  When it comes to self-control, we do well to remember that self-control is not a personality characteristic or a "wiring," but rather it is a fruit of the Spirit.

Self-Control: A Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and… self-control.  Self-control isn't any more a "wiring" thing than kindness is.  We would never excuse someone's lack of kindness by saying, "they're just not wired that way."

No.  Self-control, like the rest of the fruit of the Spirit, is a maturity thing.  Tied-in to executing a vision, it takes maturity to stick with it.  It takes maturity to not always be giving up or changing courses or dreaming about what else could be and instead, doing it.

Dreamers are a dime a dozen.  Doers are what I'm looking for.

And doing - executing with discipline - it requires self-control.

Commanded to Exercise Self-Control
All through the Bible we're commanded to have self-control.  In fact, there is a great spot in the Apostle Paul's letter to Titus (Titus chapter 2) where he explicitly commands older men and younger men to exercise self-control and then he goes on to command older women to teach younger women to have self-control, indirectly therefore, also commanding older women to exercise self-control.

So older men, younger men, older women, and younger women - we're all commanded to exercise self-control and to be growing in this way.  It's a fruit of the Spirit.  It's not that some are Type A and some are Type B and the Type As, they've got it and the Type Bs don't.  Self-control is a maturity thing, not a wiring thing.

The best way I know how to execute with discipline is by mastering the art of self-control.  

What It Looks Like to Exercise Self-Control
I'm not perfect at this, and there are some areas of my life where I would consider myself a border-line failure at this.  I tend to try to do too many things at once and what I am realizing is that I can only focus on few things really, really well because executing with discipline requires self-control.

What does mastering the art of self-control look like?  It looks like... scheduling.

(Anti-climactic pause).

Seriously though.  Executing with discipline means exercising self-control to DO what is important.  The best way I have found that to work is to schedule what is important.

One quick example: I'm a pastor which means I preach a sermon about 45-50 weeks out of the year.  When I first started preaching, I didn't have self-control in my prep.  What that ended up looking like was often waking up at 3am on Sunday morning to finish preparing my sermon because I hadn't exercised self-control in the prior week and block out everything else to focus on what was most important.

Over time, I've learned to block out time on my calendar for sermon prep and exercise self-control to say 'no' to other things that could encroach on that time.  I also have to exercise self-control to use that time wisely.

Without exercising self-control through scheduling, I'd be a mess.


Your Schedule is Yours
Do you have a great vision and and great plan?  Executing with discipline will require that you master the art of self-control.  Get your calendar out.  Schedule time on your calendar to execute your plan. 

No one can manage your calendar but you.  I know there are some things on your calendar that cannot be changed.  Your vision is not likely going to get executed during those times.  That's reality.  That may be a realization that you only come to by actually looking at your calendar; and, that realization may cause you to revisit your plan.

The guiding question is "when will this plan get executed."  

If you cannot answer that question, your vision will fail.



In my next post, we'll examine "recalibration" which is another essential aspect of turning a vision into actuality.