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Your Desire Drives Your Discipline

Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Long before the first plate goes on the barbell or the first drop of sweat hits the mat floor. Long before someone checks out a gym on-line or starts to get recommendations on where they should work out. At a point in the life of everyone who begins a journey of physical fitness, something ignites a desire. The lives we live are birthed from our collective desires. In today’s culture, desire can have a somewhat negative connotation, almost like a guilty pleasure we know we shouldn’t have. When I say desire, I’m talking about your core motives. Your desires are the set of images, goals, and thoughts that drive the output of your life. For athletes, that output is known as discipline.

It’s funny to link desire and discipline in the same sentence because no doubt some of you were raised in a home where your desire did give way to discipline. Only it was punishment for something you did wrong. You desired to sneak out, so you were disciplined by being grounded. In the athletic mindset, discipline is not something that happens to you as a result of being bad or breaking the rules. Although burpees may feel like that sometimes. Discipline, or rather disciplines, are the ordered ways in which we live our lives. They are the practices, or habits, that fuel the journey to reach our desires. Here’s the thing though – disciplines don’t tell the whole story. As a coach, I’m in constant search of an athlete’s desires. Because desires change. The discipline of coming to the gym five days a week won’t sustain itself if your desire is to PR every time you walk in. It’s simply not possible to be stronger or fitter every 24 hours for the rest of your life. Of course, that sounds silly when you read it, but have you ever stepped on a scale after 24 hours of “low carb” only to be disappointed because you didn’t lose weight? The starting point is all about desire, and honestly, sometimes it’s really hard to look our desires in the mirror. What looks like a desire to lose weight is really a desire to look better than all your friends. The desire for better results or heavier lifts may be a cry to be affirmed and showered with praise. And yet there’s something even deeper going on inside you. I call this your core desire.

The core desire is the one thing from which all things flow. Your physical and spiritual lives are intricately connected. It’s impossible to separate them because you have feelings you can’t see driving everything you can see. When we talk about training spiritual fitness, what we’re really doing is stepping into an awareness of the wholeness of our humanity. We are body and soul (or spirit if you prefer), and you can’t take those things apart like Legos. When you train the body, you engage your soul. And when you engage the disciplines of spiritual fitness, over time they have an impact on not only who you are, but how you are.  Your life will become most abundant when you order the habits, or disciplines of your life around this core desire – To know and love God.

Everything that we do, from prayer to meditation to journaling to gratitude should be driven by a desire to know and love God. And we have been given the capacity to do this because God first knew and loved us. Think what life would be like if things like financial freedom, material comforts, and career success all flowed from the desire to know and love God. Those results would be from the overflow of ordering your life around this core desire. People driven to succeed at all costs will do whatever it takes to make it happen. They will sacrifice relationships and become prisoners of their own pride. People driven to know and love God will sacrifice their needs for others. Success has more to do with who they encourage than how many zeroes are in the bonus check.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll be introducing you to spiritual disciplines, or workouts you can begin using in your life. Some of them will be completely familiar to you, and others you may have never heard of. The spiritual disciplines lose their value when ordered around any desire other than to know and love God. That’s not to say they won’t work. These aren’t some secret magic phrases, instead they’re simple practices. But just like physical fitness, core desires have more to do with results than you realize. So, here’s your first workout. Every Minute on the Minute for three minutes start by saying this phrase – “I want to order my life around a desire to know and love You, God.” Then for the remainder of the minute I want you to think about things in your life that either support or hinder that desire. You’ll do it for a total of three minutes. At the end of three minutes, take three more minutes and write down the things that popped into your head. Title one list “Support,” and the other “Hinder.” Repeat the workout two more times in the same week so that by the end of seven days, you’ve done the workout three times. Use the same paper each time so you can add or subtract from your lists. Believe me, things will rise to the top. I then challenge you to share the results with a friend, a group of friends, or if you’re up for it, post the results to your favorite social media app and add @hopeinatx to your post so I can join the conversation. 3-2-1-Go!

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