I sat in on our pastor’s new members class Sunday, and Pastor Randy mentioned several disciplines that growing Christians should have. They include “Prayer, Faithfulness in Church, Scripture Reading and Memorization, Journaling, Fasting and Tithing.” It put me in mind of the many who have listed various characteristics or “disciplines” of growing Christians.
J.I. Packer’s book Rediscovering Holinesss (2000) summarizes various authors’ lists of disciplines, beginning with Richard Foster who popularized such lists in his book Celebration of Discipline (1978). In addition to the ones Randy listed, Foster included the disciplines of “Solitude, Submission, Service, Confession and Guidance”. Elisabeth Elliot’s list in Discipline: The Glad Surrender (1982) included “Body, Mind, Place (honoring others), Time, Possessions, Work, and Feelings.” R. Kent Hughes wrote Disciplines of a Godly Man (1991) added “Purity, Marriage, Fatherhood, Friendship, Mind, Devotion, Integrity, Tongue, Work, Perseverance, Leadership, Witness, and Ministry”. Donald Whitney in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (1991) added “Scripture Meditation, Application, Evangelism, Stewardship, and Learning.”
No list is definitive. Several added to, left off or duplicated disciplines of other authors. Pastor Randy invited the class to list other disciplines to add to their own list. On my Discipleship Card, my essentials are “Daily in the Bible, Pray for Partners, Honored Family, Moral Purity, Witnessing, Physical Fitness, Tithe on Increase.”
What about you? Do you have a list of “essential disciplines” for yourself? Now, of course we are saved by grace and not by works, so don’t be legalistic. But we are saved for good works (Eph. 2:10), so as disciples, we should discipline ourselves.