Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Discipline in Changing Lives

The following is extracted from Jay Adams' Ready to Restore:

Too many counselling failures are the result of the lack of discipline in the life of a counsellor. Most counselees, whatever other problems they may have, in addition, have a problem with undisciplined living. They may not be aware of this as a problem, but the counsellor should; whether or not a counselee states lack of discipline as a contributing or complicating prob­lem, the counsellor should look for it in his life. In some counselees, lack of discipline is itself the fundamental difficulty.

The nature of the situation is such that, when problems go unsolved for any length of time, they eat away at whatever structure and discipline one has. Even normally well-disciplined persons may see this happening; when they do, it only aggravates the situation for them. There is a tendency in those whose problems have continued for some time to give up on many responsibilities and interests. Even when this spirit of "what's the use?" doesn't spiral down into serious depression, it can play havoc with whatever life structure remains. Add to this the fact that many (not all) of the persons who need counselling lead rather undisciplined lives anyway and you have all the ingredients for a rather nasty stew. Either way, when they begin counselling, most counselees are in dire need of help in the area of discipline. REMEMBER THIS FACT.

At the very core of the problem of the undisciplined life is lack of structure, and often that results from lack of purpose. The disciplined person knows where God wants him to go and structures his life to take himself there. Moreover, he structures into his life ways of reminding himself of obligations and methods for assuring himself that he will meet them. He plans ahead, makes commitments, sets deadlines, schedules his life, and sticks to his schedule no matter how he feels. The undisciplined person rarely does any of these things.

Instead, an undisciplined person gets himself into trouble by following feelings instead of obligations. Since his life structure is minimal, he finds it relatively easy to fall into the feelings trap, has a hard time saying' 'no," and allows circumstances or other people to run his life. He may set goals but rarely reaches them because he fails to erect those structures that are necessary for attaining them. He avoids making commitments because he knows that he is likely not to keep them. Then, he wonders why he never gets anywhere. He may blame God and others for his failure, but until he is shown the true nature of his difficulty he will never attain his goals.

Now all of this is of the utmost importance to the lay counsellor. If he is largely going to be working with people like that, and if it is necessary for him to help counselees to discipline their lives for godliness (I Tim. 4:7), he must know all about discipline. He must be able to suggest ways and means for counselees to discipline their lives, he must plan to regularly monitor their progress to be sure that they meet their responsibilities, and he must do this in a highly disciplined manner throughout the course of counselling. The only way to develop new biblical patterns of life is through structure leading to structure. Scriptural analyses and answers, the best intentions in the world and even commitment to biblical goals—though all good and necessary—will fail if these are not a part of an overall structure designed and motivated to produce what God intends. But even that often bogs down unless the counsellor encourages, rebukes, demonstrates, explains, praises, etc., all along the way.

When failure occurs because of lack of structure or monitoring, it is almost worse than if no attempt had been made. Counselees then may become discouraged with what they see clearly to be biblical goals and solutions that failed—for lack of discipline! Such discouragement can be­come the occasion for despair, doubt and defeat. So you must not fail here!

From all of this, you can see that the counsellor himself must be disci­plined. Discipline is a two-edged sword that cuts both counsellor and coun­selee. The counsellor must live a disciplined life to teach disciplined living. In counselling and in his personal life (this carries over into counselling) the counsellor must learn to structure life by God's priorities and principles. It works the other way too: doing concerned counselling helps to discipline the counsellor.

God planned His work, then worked his plan. Christ's ministry was carried out according to a schedule: He came "in the fullness of time," spoke of the fact that His' 'hour had not yet come," and died for sinners-. right on schedule. Who are we, creatures made in the image of God, to think that we can get along without planning and scheduling?

Read the rest...

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