A few days ago, our parent brand launched a podcast series called “Simple Tools to Get the Most Out of Scripture”. The idea for the series came from our personal experience of being intimidated by the practice of sitting down with Scripture every day.
But it is not just Scripture that is intimidating. It is the very idea of discipline, or doing something consistently that you may or may not actually want to do. Reading the Bible, just like light exercise or eating vegetables, doesn’t seem like it should be as hard as it is. Why do we have such a hard time with discipline?
An Internal Culture
One of the things that came to light as we worked on the podcast series is that people often don’t know “where to start”. We also don’t know if we are doing it right or if it is really having an effect. We often wonder if there is something better we could be doing with our time.
It is strange how scared we are of discipline. It is not just about the challenging effort sometimes required. It goes deeper than that. We are afraid it will change us. And, also, afraid it won’t. We are worried we are wasting our time or will somehow be made a fool of. We don’t want to wait. We don’t want to worry or wander.
All of this is indicative of a specific kind of culture. There are two types of culture and one of them we refer to as a Don’t-Make-A-Mistake culture. As the name suggests, this is the kind of atmosphere where the expectation is perfection. It is a powder keg for fear because any wrong turn, any weakness, any indication of imperfection is treated with ridicule and shame.
Most of us have participated in organizations, be it family, work, or social, that operates as Don’t-Make-A-Mistake. Our society, politics, and sports usually operate this way. And we have internalized that narrative.
So discipline scares us because it exposes us to the possibility of failure. We don’t grow without discipline. But we don’t fail without trying. So we are intimidated because we are sure the guilt, shame, and scorn of not being perfect is going to seep through and bury us.
A Better Way
The other kind of culture is a Create Something culture. We would all be better off if we could figure out how to internalize a culture that is about growth rather than the illusion of perfection.
When we are focused on creating something, we see mistakes and inadequacies as an opportunity to learn and grow. In a way, it de-personalizes things as we focus on the mission we are chasing. But in another way, it frees us to really be who we are by releasing us from the shackles and stigma of perfectionism.
You don’t need to be intimidated by discipline. It is how you progress, how you grow. What we all need is a vision we can commit to, something that matters to us more than the fear of failure, something that will propel us through all the negative self-talk and into the joys that accompany the challenge of discipline.