No one can focus on every discipline at once. I love to talk about disciplines; I’m passionate about it, but it relies on context. Within nutrition, there are times for disciplines that help one lose weight and there are times for disciplines that help one gain weight; the same is true with both psychological and spiritual disciplines!
There are two examples that immediately come to mind that show exactly how important context can be to our disciplines: (1) Team building and (2) my personal experience with my recent accident.
(1) We on this site are a team, you included; and I believe that the context of “team-crafting” (as I call it) illuminates perfectly how context effects discipline. As we have been building our writing team this year, we have gone through quite a journey:
- At first, it was just me. I am very cold emotionally (I know I can be hard to connect with) and, at the time, I found my own writings very dry; so, I added Shama, Zach, Doctor Showbizhair, and Jessica to the site for help.
- Then we were more light-hearted, warmer, funnier, and easier to connect with; but, we lacked a level of personability. That’s when we added The Fanboy Pastor, who was not at all afraid to be as personal as he could be about his journey.
- We were, then, an effective team and we were strong together, covering everything I had hoped we would with this site. In this stregnth, we saw the chance to help mentor David through adding him to our writing team. He flipped everything on its head by adding passion and more energy to our team.
- Finally, my personal friend (who portrays The Musical Mermaid, for the site) revealed to me something our team had been missing – practicality. We offered a lot of good information and inspiration and energy, but we had not been offering practical ways for our readers to join us in our health adventures. So, we have added The Musical Mermaid to help us in that area.
This is how team-crafting works. When a need arises, you find someone for the job (who will work well with the already-established team). When we see someone with a need that we can help, then we find a way to build them up better.
(2) Before my car accident this July, I was trying to gain 10lbs of muscle to reach my ideal BMI. But while I was in the ER, after my accident, I lost 20lbs. Instead of aiming to gain 30lbs, my new focus was simply to get better. I ate to heal, not just gain weight. Once I really started healing physically, I had to have brain surgery. I, then, fasted a couple days to build my mental health back up.
Now, I’m back to eating to promote muscle gain, again. The context of my health was changed rapidly, and thus the disciplines that I used to get healthier changed rapidly, with the context of my life.
This is exactly how we use all of our disciplines – in context, with our lives. When there is a weakness or something missing in us, then we must discipline ourselves in this area until we are bettered. We cannot focus on all disciplines, but we should focus on the ones that can better us in our weakest areas!
St Paul, a former serial-killer, wrote a majority of our New Testament in the Bible. WAIT, a serial-killer wrote most of what the Christian faith is based off of!?
YES, Paul (formerly called Saul) was raised as both a Jew and a Roman, who sought out and killed anyone who was a proffesed believer in Jesus Christ – until he saw a vision of Christ and turned his life around, becoming an apostle (Acts 9).
The book of 1 Corinthians was a book written by this former serial-killer and was written to a church that he founded in a city that was much like Las Vegas (what happened in Corinth, stayed in Corinth). In this letter, Paul addresses some judgemental attitudes that were being shown towards the eating of particular meats, which were sacrificed to false gods.
In chapter 9, he addresses both his role as a leader and the roles of those to whom he wrote the letter for. He explained that he, an apostle, had the role of planting more and more churches. In this, he explained that he had the right to certain necessary freedoms – to eat, drink, and be merry (Nehemiah 8:12, Ecclesiastes 3:13, 1 Corinthians 9:4, and more).
[Sometimes taking breaks and enjoying life takes discipline.]
Then, Paul explained to the people that thier role was to support ministers and church-planting (1 Corinthians 9:14). However, Paul did not take their money for himself – for he did not want to financially burden the people at this time. The context of the health of that church influenced the discipline of giving that should have been demanded of them (1 Corinthians 9:8 – 15).
Paul finishes the chapter in that letter to the Corinthians, with the following command to practice spiritual disciplines:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27 (ESV)
This section of scripture is the most potent quote about discipline that I have ever encountered.
- To win a race, you start by running.
- To be healthy, you start by changing your diet.
- To gain muscel mass, you start by joining the gym.
- To “catch ’em all” on Pokemon Go, you start by catching Pidgey.
- To better the health of your mind, you start by getting enough sleep.
- To know the Bible, you start by reading it.
- To transform, you practice disciplines.
Transformation takes self-discipline.
- To transform from scrawny to buff, you eat more proteins and you excercise daily.
- To transform by losing unwanted weight, you eat less carbage and more healthy fats!
- To transform your mental health – you can get better sleep, work on your gut health, and maybe try fasting.
- To transform your spirit – you read the Bible, pray / meditate, fast, or maybe even give of yourself to others.
The Kingdom work that Christ speaks about, in the Gospels, is only acheivable through teams of tranformed indiviuals.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
– Romans 12:4, 5 (ESV)
These verses were also written by our favorite ex-serial-killer, St Paul. As seen earlier, in 1 Corinthians, Paul understood roles and how they played into the context of our disciplines. After these two verses in Romans, Paul tells those he writes to in this other letter to hone in on their spiritual giftings. He tells those gifted in prophecy to do so in faith, those who are leaders to lead with zeal, and those who serve to do so cheerfully!
I am a leader, with the gift of administration (this includes team-crafting for me). I must discipline myself to build teams that complement each other, to be knowledgable / passionate in the subjects of any ministry that I lead, and to discipline my own body (“lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”).
If any member of the body is not disciplined in its role, then the whole body suffers. Same with us here, at TEAMzao:
- If I don’t do my part in administrating, then there would be no organization or developed writing team.
- If our writing team does not do their part, then our site would lack its unique personality, passion, and relatability.
- If those who follow this site (and podcast) don’t do their part, then there would be no way, motivation, or reason to keep this outreach going.
So, when we are weak in an area, we must discipline ourselves to be stronger – whether that strength be for our physical health, our knowledge of God’s Word, or our spiritual maturity. As Paul says about this race that we call living, “run that you may obtain it”; this is what it means to practice disciplines in context! The context of the body and our individual roles in it must also change which disciplines we focus on – if you are gifted in writing, then write; if in giving, then give; if in encouragement, then do so! Find your passions and your giftings and act on them; this is what it means to practice disciplines in context!
- Pick an area that you’re weak in and practice a discipline to better yourself for the next month. This month, I’ll be focusing on the discipline of meditation to help strengthen my spiritual fortitude.
- Then pick an area that you’re gifted in and decide on a discipline to help you hone in on that gifting; focus on this discipline for the next month also. I’ll be disciplining myself to work on a team exercise that we are doing with our writing team, right now (more on that later).
Join me; join the team!
[Comment below which disciplines you’ll be focusing on; let’s encourage one another – as a team]