Lifelong Disciplines

November 15th 2016, by Robert B. Miller

I enjoy listening to Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. He shared the following principle in one of his messages: “There is a cumulative value to investing small amounts of time in certain activities over a long period.” This immediately resonated with me when I heard it. Think about how this principle is relevant in different areas of life.

It’s true in the physical realm. Many people with admirable intentions sign up at the gym with great initial enthusiasm but then start working out for unrealistic amounts of time. Before long they become discouraged, stop exercising, and as a result, receive little to no physical benefit. I see others at my gym who exercise for shorter periods of time during the two or three days a week they are there. These people have been following their routine for years and are in better physical condition because of their reasonable, consistent regimen.

Andy’s principle can apply in our spiritual lives as well. There is a cumulative spiritual benefit in making a priority of spending time alone with God each day in the Word and prayer. I don’t know many people who have been consistent doing this for long periods of time every day. Is it not more beneficial to invest shorter periods of time alone with God daily and do it for a lifetime than to burn out trying to do too much and ultimately neglect this essential discipline?

Many of our clients have practiced a similar principle in the area of finances. Ron Blue in his book, Master Your Money, says, “Spend less than you earn and do it for a long time, and you will be financially successful.” That’s not a very exciting statement, but those who practice that principle will in due course reap the financial rewards. Eugene Peterson speaks of “a long obedience in the same direction.” It is the consistent, often non-spectacular lifelong disciplines that can produce significant and lasting benefits.