How disciplined are you?

Let me just begin by saying that the apostle Paul is a stud. This man continues to "shuck the corn" almost 2000 years after his death. In 1 Corinthians, he spends a lot of time laying out for the church in Corinth how they need to live their lives as followers of Christ.

In chapter 9 he begins to defend his own ministry (apparently some in Corinth weren't convinced he was legit). At the very end of that chapter, he writes in verse 27 "I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified." As a vocational minister, I take those words to heart and use them to analyze my own life to make sure that my lifestyle and my decisions are consistent with the position to which God has called me.

But since I believe that everyone who is a follower of Christ is a minister, let me break this down for all of us. Here are some points for all of us to consider:

1) What are you putting into your body? Why is it that many ministers are overweight? I'm not slamming anybody who has a tough time shedding pounds, but it does seem that many pastors don't take good care of themselves at all. And for the rest of you ministers, how good are you taking care of yourselves? Do you monitor what you take in or is it anything goes?

2) What are you putting into your mind? If you have internet access (which you must have if you are reading this) then you know how much junk there is on the web. Are you looking at it? Are you going to sites that will fill your mind with images that will be almost impossible to purge from your memory? What about TV shows and movies? My point is, if you are indulging in visual adultery and fornication (yes, I used old school words there) then how ready are you to share the gospel of Christ much less live it out in your own life?

3) How is your self-control? Are you managing your temper or is it managing you? Do you spend money impulsively or are you trying to be wise and shrewd with your finances? Have you become too accustomed to stretching the truth as a way of protecting yourself and your own interests? Can you say 'no' and mean it?

Look, it's hard being a follower of Christ. As a minister at a church I face many challenges daily, most of which come in the form of how I will lead God's people. But if you aren't a pastor, then your challenges will be different yet not any easier. Discipline is hard. And I'm not just talking about personal Bible study and prayer.

Paul wrote these words because he doesn't want to see anyone follower of Christ "disqualified" when it comes to the gospel. He knew - and we should too - that if our lives are out of whack and lack any real discipline, then our success in communicating the gospel to those who desperately need it will be minimal at best.

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