Thursday, April 13, 2017

Using the 4Ls, Part 12 – How the Ls Help Me LEARN (Exercise)

Last week, I turned back to my Strategy of LEARN and began to share how the 4Ls impact each part, beginning with the L for Love (for simplicity sake, all links for the entire series are located at the bottom of this post). This week, I turn to the E of Exercise.

Sometimes, I discover new links between my various word choices. For instance, I intentionally chose Steps for each of the Ls, and I intentionally chose exercise for the E of my strategy, but I had not fully considered that taking steps is a part of exercise. Indeed, each step is necessary as I exercise my Strategy, so it fits extremely well. Exercise is not just physical, rather, it is a discipline that encompasses the physical, as well as the spiritual and financial. This area is one where I have much still to learn, but before I engage with the Steps, let me briefly detail each area.

3 Areas of Discipline

Discipline is a word that is often misunderstood when it comes to how people relate to one another, but using the word in relation to habits or other non-living aspects is well understood. Yet, the word means the same in both contexts. Essentially, discipline is the means of making something better. For my case, I exercise discipline to improve physically, financially, and spiritually (or, at least, I should). Frankly I could do much better at all three, and that is why I need steps to make sure my strategy is effect, so I can ultimately achieve my vision.

This part of my Strategy reads as follows:

Exercise   Discipline in my life – spiritually, bodily (diet/exercise), and financially (1 Tim. 4.7-8).

Let me briefly break each of these items down.

Spiritual Discipline

Spiritual discipline can include any number of items. Many books talk about various disciplines of the Christian life and I have found several helpful from a variety of perspectives. One book that covers specific disciplines in an organized and helpful way is Donald Whitney’s, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. The book covers such disciplines as the need for Bible intake, prayer, worship, serving, evangelism, service, etc. But the final one is perseverance, which is to say, to remain disciplined in living out these aspects of the Christian life. Over time, I have emphasized each of disciplines in Whitney’s book, and overall I have lived within the disciplines well, at least, for a time. (The one I always wish I did better/more frequently is journaling.)

The key to understanding spiritual disciplines is to realize living by these elements is not about becoming a Christian, but becoming a better one. For instance, praying does not make us a Christian, but praying better helps us better communicate with God which should lead to living more by faith. Thus, being/becoming disciplined in these various aspects can help to better love God, and love others as well.

Physical Discipline

This area includes both diet and exercise. I have been forced to change my diet due to some digestive issues over the past several years (gluten). Fortunately, these changes have allowed me to lose over 50 pounds, and further changes have allowed me to prevent re-gaining the weight. But I still do not eat as well as I should. And I certainly do not get the bodily exercise I need. And such exercise could be quite easy. For instance, I enjoy reading a great deal (more on this in two weeks), and have a stationary bike that would be a great place to read every day. But I have not developed the habit well enough, so I find a chair or the couch, or someplace comfortable. And unfortunately, being comfortable is rather opposed to being disciplined. Again, this area deserves specific attention, and has for awhile. Although I have improved overall, I still have much to change.

Financial Discipline

My undergrad was in the area of business and finance. So, one would think I would be in good shape in this area. However, we can all be guilty of not applying what we know. In my case, I falsely applied what I knew. (I thought I could beat the businesses at their own game. The fact that banks have bigger buildings and more employees than my house shows that I was wrong!) My efforts caused us to get into a great deal of debt. Fortunately, we are making good progress, but the thousands of dollars in interest I have paid to others over the years is a steep lesson that I had to endure (and cause my family to endure as well). Presently, we live by a very reasonable budget, and again, we are making good progress in this area. But, as I like to remind myself, until the last dime of debt is paid, I am still, in effect, paying for a hamburger I ate in 1994 (It wasn’t that good!)!

Intersecting Strategy and Steps

Having mentioned each of the three areas where I need to constantly remind myself of discipline, I now turn to how each Step can help.

LEARN – I have largely accomplished this Step. I know the disciplines, but I must execute them. Certainly, I do not know everything about how to be disciplined in these areas, but I have a good foundation to what each means (and means to me), so it is time to live by what I know and then add more later.

LIVE – This is the area in where the need is greatest. As I just mentioned, I know plenty, but do I live by the principles I know? In part, and at times, I do very well. But not always. Thus, this step is extremely important to me right now (every aspect of the Strategy seems to have a particular Step in focus). I must remember this (here, particularly related to physical and financial): If I do not choose to live out the principles I know, then I cannot pass them on to others. I can pass on lessons from not living by the principles, but I cannot pass on what it means to live by the principles. If I do not do this, then I will never be able to achieve my Mission or my Vision.

LOVE – In admitting my struggle to Exercise the necessary physical and financial disciplines, it is obvious that I have yet to reach a level of LOVE for either. Yet, when I do exercise physically and see progress being made financially, I have hope for what could be in the future. This hope cannot yet translate to LOVE in this sense, but I see a glimpse of what is possible. Moreover, I can experience a LOVE of the disciplines in a spiritual sense, even if it is imperfect. Again, knowing what is possible should inspire me to be more disciplined in the other areas of my life.

LEAD – As I have mentioned elsewhere in this series, leading others is more than just teaching, it is showing. In a very real sense, it includes the idea of imitation. Without belaboring the point, I am ill-suited to do this in two of the three areas where I want to better exercise discipline. Thus, I must lead in the area of spiritual discipline, helping others to grow in this area, but I must find ways to be led (and be held accountable) in the areas of physical and financial responsibility. As I mentioned in the LEARN Step above, I know enough to begin, but once I do begin, I will need to Learn more and have the humility to be led by others.


Paul exhorts Timothy to be trained in godliness (1 Timothy 4.7-8). The word for trained is the Greek word from which the English word “gymnasium” is derived. Thus, the exercise of which I speak, is not easy, and that is why I have often failed, and while many others do as well. This is not an excuse, but it is a reality, and therefore I (we) need to look beyond myself (ourselves) to find what is necessary to succeed. My willpower is not enough, but God can provide the strength I need (Colossians 1.29). The truth is that exercise is often a part of our training for something greater. I may not know the extent of what that something greater is, but God does. Thus, I must Exercise in order to ensure I am executing my Strategy. And as I do that will move me to the next letter in the sequence – A, which stands for Action.

Prior Posts:
4L – Matthew 4.19 –
4L – Matthew 28.19 –
4L – Spiral –
4L – Vision –
4L – Mission –
4L – Strategy –
4L – Steps –
4L – Learn –
4L – Live –
4L – Love –
4L – Lead –
4L – BackUptheSpiral –
4L – HelpMeLEARN –

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