Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spiritual disciplines

A lot of times when someone hears the phrase "spiritual disciplines", one of the following thoughts may rise up:

  • If it's spiritual, why do I have to "do" anything? Isn't "spiritual discipline" an oxymoron?
  • Sounds selfish. Why not do something for somebody else?
  • Is this about the "big 3" disciplines from Judaism that Jesus talks about in his sermon on the mount (prayer, fasting, giving)?

OK, you got me... these are my thoughts that often rise up when thinking about spiritual disciplines. But it's not because disciplines are a bad thing -- it's just my cynicism and rebeliousness coming to the forefront.

A friend challenged me to write down some personal disciplines that are simple, achievable and have an impact. Here's what I came up with:

  • I will smile and use the name of service-people I come in contact with (waiters, cashiers, etc...).
  • I will read the bible with an open mind to learn new things, not just reaffirm what I've always thought.
  • I will listen to God's lessons in daily relationships, discussions, experiences and challenges. He can teach me through the ordinary as well as the extraordinary.
  • I will remind myself that other people are priceless souls, just like me. They are all worthy of respect and unconditional love.
  • I will use the internet to become a better person.
  • I will use film the same way (will watching this movie give me an opportunity to grow?).
  • I will find my niche in work that is fun, rewarding and fitting, but I won't worry about it. I will trust God with my career.
  • I will put my family relationships above all other earthly ones. They come first and should get my best, not my leftovers.
  • I will pay attention to people in need, and try to meet those needs.
  • I will remember that redemption is not dependent on what I do. I will relax about eternity and try to stay in the moment.
  • I will give myself room to screw up all of the above.

If this year has taught me nothing else, it has given me an appreciation and acceptance of people across all walks of life. My list above may have absolutely no relevance to you at all, and today I can accept that and inquire about your own life lessons, hoping we can all learn together. Life's too short to keep learning lessons the hard way through personal experience. I'm ready to cheat off somebody else's work for a bit. :)


hardrox said...

Great list, Michael. Since I'm in an "evaluation" stage myself, this is definitely food for thought.

FishrCutB8 said...

I was talking with a guy who used to read the Bible three or four times a year. I thought that wa spretty amazing, as it has been forever since I read it through. When I confessed this to him, he said his study o fthe Bible has changed as he's grown older and closer to God. Now, he can spend a day or two on one single verse, divining its meaning for him and his life.

All that being said, I think the key is to keep up with the owner's manual.

Redlefty said...

Great point, Fish. The bible class I'm attending right now is the 'ole format of "make a point and pick a dozen single, scattered verses to back it up." It's driving me crazy and is a good exercise in patience.

My approach right now is to read a whole chapter or even a whole story arc or character's life, then try to apply it to today. I just went through this with Moses and will post about it soon.

Greg, God bless you in your time of evaluation!

FishrCutB8 said...

We have been studying the book of Matthew for over a year now...one or two sections or parables at a time. I really like the format. If you'rew ever in the Harrisburg, PA area, be sure to give me a shout and we'll go together...

Merry Christmas, my friend

Redlefty said...

As if I would come to PA and not let you know! You can be assured I will contact you, Rob. My company services over 700 banks across the country, so there's no telling where they'll ask me to go next!