Conflict of Interest

I don’t really know what the official complete definition of “discipline” is, but sure noticed something today that ought to be included. One of the students that we know from this city had called me yesterday to tell me that his family had made some food for us for New Years. He wanted to know if it’d be alright to come by and drop it off today. I told him to come by anytime.  

So he stopped by this afternoon and gave us his gift, which we really appreciated. Then we sat down and talked for a while. Of course, when I say we talked, I mean he talked. And when I say a while, I mean two hours. I know I should probably have the leadership skills to make like Houdini and escape that kind of situation, but I clearly don’t. I sat and listened. My input into the conversation was to say “yes” when he asked me every five minutes if I could understand what he was saying. Not that he cared, ‘cuz he went and said it again in English, anyway. He makes the same assumption that Americans quite often do about people who don’t speak English, that inadequacy in the native tongue means we are children mentally. These are the people whose eyes widen in surprise when they see us tie our shoes by ourselves. But anyway, not my idea of a good time. 

Today I was reminded that discipline is really the ability to force ourselves to do something that we don’t want to do. Sitting when we don’t want to sit, listening when we don’t want to listen, being when we don’t want to be. Interesting how I’ll reign myself in to keep from offending someone – a socially-motivated discipline. What do I force myself to do for Christ? Where are my spiritually-motivated disciplines? Where does the love of Christ constrain me? Where is the cross I’ve hoisted for His name’s sake? 

I guess the reason that we don’t use this kind of a definition is the fact that anytime we force ourselves to do something, it springs from a deeper desire of some kind. Though discipline is a violation of one will, it is a revelation of a desire even closer to our heart. So, discipline is a picture of a conflict, a battle of two wills. I will to sleep in, I will to make money more – so I get up and go to work. I will to do my devotions, I will to be entertained more – so I skip my devotions and watch TV. Or as Jesus says, what I do and say springs out of what is treasured in the heart (Matt. 12:35).  

As a missionary, there’s a bunch of stuff that I’d personally just as soon pass on: language school, some foods, certain cultural events, and more than a few relationships. If I want discipline in these areas, I must first learn to treasure these people and our Savior’s call to them.

One Comment on “Conflict of Interest”

  1. riddlej January 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm #

    Really interesting post. Praise the Lord for your sacrifice in China. We wish you the best, and thanks!

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