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Leadership: Grow in Self-Discipline

Part 4 of 4

We have journeyed together over the last four weeks in our water fountain analogy of leadership.

As leaders, we are the top tier of the water fountain and others are refreshed by us. The more we pour into others, the more we draw from your inner reservoir. The more we draw from our inner reservoir, the more steadfast our character needs to become.

We can become trustworthy and faithful individuals. We can make choices that build our character and we can control our thoughts to become more secure leaders. But this is not an intermittent journey—this is a continuous climb. If we are going to live in this way consistently, there is one final thing that we must speak about. This is self-discipline. It will take self-discipline to grow in all these areas of leadership.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines self-discipline as the willpower to do something we ought to do, even when we do not have the desire to.[1] Self-discipline prompts us to be consistent even when our motivation is low, our emotions are sporadic and the surrounding environment is less than ideal.

It is important to note that self-discipline and self-control are not synonymous. According to the Free Lance Star (2003), self-control refers to one’s ability to maintain discipline when faced with pressure from an immediate desire or impulse.[2] For this article, they will be used interchangeably, because we can be tempted to focus on the immediate and fail to keep off track of what we have committed to.

So on our journey of growing as leaders, there are 3 things to remember in our reflection on self-discipline:

1. We are the ones who will pay the price for our lack of self-discipline or self-control.

Our followers’ lives are impacted by the choices we make, but we live with the outcome of our choices—whether they build or break us.

There is a sobering warning in Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)[3] from King Solomon of ancient Israel. He says that a man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. While the reference to a city might not be easily grasped in our modern day, imagine driving past a home that has been looted and left empty, without any windows and doors.

If we choose not to exercise self-control, our lives are compared to this broken down home. This is our home, our choice, our life.

2. We can develop good habits that aid self-discipline.

Let us not become discouraged because our lives can change course with the development of good habits. Dr. Dennis Kimbro, author of Think and Grow Rich and What Makes the Great Great, penned a thought provoking poem on the power of a habit that we can meditate on.

“I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward, or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command.

Half of the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed-you must merely be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men; and alas, of all failures, as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. Those who are great, I have made great.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin-it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am a habit.”

3. The reward of self-discipline will always outweigh the sacrifice.

We have to keep our eyes on the end goal and keep going. To be self-disciplined, we will sacrifice our time, our resources, our energy and our temporary enjoyment but it will be worth the sacrifice.

Self-discipline might not get easier with time, but our attitude toward self-discipline will become more open and accepting. Psychologist Daniel Goldstein quoted, “I think self-discipline is something, it’s like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.”[4]

The heart of a leader is a deep fountain. We may water others once or twice, but it takes self-discipline to repeatedly water others and be a continuous flowing fountain. No matter how much we fail or struggle, we should never give up. Therefore, let us be encouraged and determined to become leaders who water others. Grenville Kleiser, North American inspirational author, states that by constant self-discipline and self-control, you can develop greatness of character.[5]

[1] Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary (n.d.). Self-discipline. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from [2] The Free Lance Star (2003). Self-control and self-discipline aren't the same. Retrieved from [3] English Standard Version Bible (2016). Crossway Bibles. [4] Daniel Goldstein Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Web site: [5] Grenville Kleiser Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved from Web site:

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