Athlete, Train in Discipline
Hebrews 12:11 (ESV)
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Athletes probably know better than anyone the importance of discipline. Sure, my body might want to sleep in every morning, and sure, my body might thank me for letting it chill in bed for days on end, but when that race or marathon or game comes around, my body sure won’t like me.
Is rest important? Yes — and for some of us, that’s where we may need to discipline ourselves: to wean ourselves off of the high of achievement and productivity, and learn to do nothing and rest in God for one day of the week.
Discipline’s one of those practices that is difficult to prescribe in sweeping terms, as we all have our own struggles and challenges that look different depending on the season. But the common denominator is this: God helps us identify our present challenges, whether through His Holy Spirit, or through friends, or even through mistakes and failures, and gives us the opportunity to commit to the difficult and often uncomfortable practice of discipline.
What does that look like for you, athlete? For some of us, we need to discipline our interior life by giving it proper attention. I think of the verse in James that calls us to be “slow to anger,” and I think of how often I myself need to pause, check in with my feelings and ask myself what and why I’m feeling a certain way before I let my unacknowledged emotions spill out and affect someone around me.
For others, we need to discipline ourselves in the art of self-motivated training. Say you want to become stronger, but it’s hard when all sports events are getting cancelled left and right. Maybe you need to ask around to see which friends share a similar desire and challenge, and set up virtual workout sessions over video chats.
Or tell a friend you have this desire, and ask them to check in with you every now and then to see how the process is for you.
I love these words from Ruthie Lindsey: “Let the motion come before the emotion.” What a great way to describe discipline — making something good happen even if you aren’t feeling it.
There’s really no outsmarting discipline, we can’t think our way toward muscle gain or flexibility or speed. And it never really happens immediately.
But once we start making moves and doing the work, that’s when we move closer to the second part of the Hebrews verse: the discipline yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained in it.