Great leaders have at least one common denominator: personal discipline.
Take the Apostle Paul as an example. He had tremendous self-control. He talks about it in this passage:
“Don’t you realize that everyone who runs in a race runs to win, but only one runner gets the prize? Run like them, so that you can win. Everyone who enters an athletic contest goes into strict training. They do it to win a temporary crown, but we do it to win one that will be permanent” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 GW).
Paul wanted to be successful and understood he couldn’t live haphazardly and accomplish what God called him to do. He showed self-discipline throughout his ministry, and so should we. Here are six specific areas of our lives where leaders need to show self-discipline.
Their mood: Most great things in the world are achieved by those who don’t feel like doing them. The Bible says, “A man without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverb 25:28 TLB). Without discipline, you’re at the mercy of your moods. You’re without defense and a helpless victim of your emotions.
Their words: Proverbs 13:3 says, “Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin” (GW). Leaders who say the wrong things at the wrong time can expect problems.
Their reactions: The Bible says, “If you are sensible, you will control your temper. When someone wrongs you, it is a great virtue to ignore it” (Proverbs 19:11 GNT). Leaders don’t fly off the handle even when provoked. When you get angry because of someone else, you’re letting that person have control over you. A disciplined person acts rather than reacts.
Their schedule: We all have the same amount of time—168 hours a week. But leaders know how to use their time effectively. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility . . . Make the best use of your time” (PHILLIPS). Discipline is the reason some people get more done than others.
You don’t have time to do everything as a leader, so you need to schedule your priorities. If you don’t decide how you’ll spend your time, others will decide for you.
Their money: Leaders must live within their means. The way you manage the resources God gives you is a glimpse into how you’ll manage the resources of others. Luke 16:10 says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with a lot. Whoever is dishonest with very little is dishonest with a lot” (GW).
Their health: For many of us, our bodies need more exercise, more rest, and fewer calories. Proverbs 23:2 says, “If you have a big appetite, restrain yourself” (GNT). Leadership is a marathon. If you want to go the distance, treat your body with respect.
The rewards of a disciplined life go well beyond your ministry. You’ll have less stress and less debt, and you’ll live longer.
But most importantly, you’ll be more ready to be used by God. The disciplines you establish today will determine your future.