Struggling to Be Disciplined?… Here’s Why

Understanding the great problem with discipline

“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  Romans 7:19

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…”  I Corinthians 9:27

Do you ever struggle with being disciplined?  Well, you’re in good company.


What is Discipline? – It’s one of the most valuable resources any person can possess to produce more and lasting results over long periods of time.  

But discipline obviously comes at a price and with some great challenges. 

Here are a few of those challenges that I find difficult to fight against, and I’m sure that you do to:

The greatest enemy to discipline… THE FLESH

The greatest enemy to discipline is the flesh.  This was the case for the Apostle Paul, and it is for us too.  Think about it, anytime you’re tempted not to be disciplined, it’s because your flesh is screaming at you to pursue an easier or more comfortable alternative.

  • When I know I should snack on those raw carrots, my flesh is screaming at me to dig into the gooey chocolate covered cake.
  • When it’s time to wake up and do the morning workout routine, my body is screaming at me to hit the snooze and stay in bed.
  • When it’s time to give my family the best of myself after a long day’s work, my flesh is screaming at me to sit in the recliner and do absolutely nothing.

The greatest enemy to discipline is our flesh.

I just finished a 12 week fitness program that focuses on resistance training to get your health and body back into shape.  And I’ll be honest, getting up on time each morning and forcing my body to do exercises I didn’t even know existed has taken some discipline.  My body screams “No”, but discipline keeps me saying “Yes”. 

I’ve determined that when it’s the difference between what I want now, or what I want most, discipline helps me continue to strive for what I want most.  And that requires that I kick my flesh in the rear end Every. Single. Day.

The main problem with discipline… IT’S NOT REUSABLE

The main problem with discipline is this – I can’t rely on yesterday’s discipline to carry me through today.

Discipline is not reusable.

It can’t be bought in a weekly or monthly dosage. As wonderful a thing as it is, it still must be chosen, one day, after the next, after the next.  Even though I successfully wake up on time and hit the exercise routine today, that does not guarantee anything for tomorrow.  I’ll have to make the same choice once again to deny my flesh, and force it to obey the next morning. 

The same is true with my daily devotions, my eating habits, and how I spend my time.  I have to be disciplined enough to choose those things daily.

Why?  Because you can’t recycle discipline.  

How often has the world seen a once young and fit athlete turn into something far from it in the later years of their life?  How often has a pastor who was once a spiritual giant become prey to addiction or a moral failure? How often has a once strong and vibrant marriage become stale and stagnant?

Somewhere along the way, someone got comfortable, even complacent, about who and where they were, and stopped disciplining themselves to continue becoming better (a better athlete, leader, husband, wife, etc.), and as a result, they actually became worse.  

Sadly, many people don’t realize how far worse they’ve actually become until it’s too late.

The valuable reminder of discipline… IT’S WORTH IT

The valuable reminder in all of this is that no one in any area of life just “stays where they are.”  Discipline is worth it because we are always constantly moving towards something, either forward or backwards.  Discipline helps us to make sure that we are moving forward. 

We are always becoming better or worse, something more or something less – in our homes… in our marriages… in our churches… in our health… in our attitude.  It all depends upon our daily steps that take us in one direction or the other. 

“Your steps today determine your direction tomorrow.”

And it all goes back to discipline.  Discipline of your body and your mind.

Paul struggled like you and I do with the discipline to live out the daily victorious Christian life. Yet he found a way to do it by combining the strength of the Spirit (in the mind) and the discipline of the flesh (in the body) to win this battle.  Who do we think we are to be able to do it any other way? 

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  Romans 7:23  

Jesus faced this same problem with the disciples’ failure to exercise discipline in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus told them…

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is week.  Matthew 26:41 

No matter how disciplined I was yesterday, I must choose it again today… and tomorrow… and the next day.  I must defeat discipline’s greatest enemy, my flesh (much of which takes place in my mind). 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13

Every step of discipline I take, moves me another step closer to where I want to be, and where God wants me to be.  Which begs us to ask these questions:

  • Where do I want to be, and where does God want me to be?
  • A year from now, five years from now… in my home, my health, my spiritual life?
  • And what steps in that direction am I disciplining myself to take on a daily basis to get there?

As they say, “No pain, no gain.”  But the difficulty of discipline now is so worth the benefits (both temporal and eternal) later! 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Ben Watt

    “I must defeat discipline’s greatest enemy, my flesh (much of which takes place in my mind).”

    Renewing our minds has to be part of defeating the flesh. I don’t just mean memorizing a Bible verse, but changing the conversation we have in our mind. I always have a conversation with myself about why I don’t need to make the disciplined decision in that moment. I need to change the conversation.

    Thanks for the encouragement today.

    • So very true, Ben. I love how you put it about “changing the conversation we have in our mind.” It’s definitely an ongoing and repetitive process. Thanks for the feedback!