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When I played basketball in junior high, my coaches made me take hundreds of free throw shots during practice. I would take them at the beginning of practice. I would take them in the middle of practice. And I would take many more at the end of each practice. If you were a professional basketball player, you would most likely take thousands of free throw shots in practice.
Players take thousands of free throw shots in practice to prepare for free throw situations in games. When you practice the free throw over and over again, these shots become second nature. You know the feel of the shot. You release the ball the same way each time. It rotates off your fingertips and into the air toward the basket the same way each time.
It takes discipline to take thousands of shots during practice. And it’s a discipline that pays off when it really matters.
I am part of a weekly men’s group. More than once, I have been described by the other men in the group as being a person of discipline. They know I get up at 4 AM every morning. I spend time in God’s Word every day before I do anything else. I go to the gym and am exercising by 5 AM. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day. For some people, these disciplines seem impossible and a bit crazy. For me, they seem natural. These are all part of my normal rhythm of life.
The past several days, I have been posting about various disciplines – the discipline of showing up, the discipline of being present, the discipline of celebration, the discipline of unplugging, the discipline of gratitude, and others.
Why do I write about these disciplines?
Hopefully, I can encourage you, the reader, through these posts to pick up a new discipline.
But just as important, these are the disciplines that stretch me. These are all disciplines that don’t yet come natural to me. I want to keep growing. I want to become the person I was created to be. I want to live life to the fullest. In order to hit these marks, I recognize the need for these other disciplines in my life. Just like Paul, I want to reach the finish line of life and hear “Well done.” Here’s what Paul had to say about self-discipline in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. I Corinthians 9:24-27