Melvyn Tan
November 14, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

Discipline & Freedom

[blockquote source=”Hebrew 12:11 (NIV)“]No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.[/blockquote] Odd Couple Discipline and freedom seems like two poles apart at first glance. We often think of being disciplined means to subordinate our desires […]

[blockquote source=”Hebrew 12:11 (NIV)“]No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.[/blockquote]

Odd Couple
Discipline and freedom seems like two poles apart at first glance. We often think of being disciplined means to subordinate our desires and to do what is necessary. We even associate discipline with pain. But, where does the pain comes from?

Love to Sleep
I love to sleep. Yes. I enjoy sleeping and if given a choice, I can sleep a lot. In fact, sleeping in used to be one of my main activities during the weekend. Especially, when during the weekdays, I work hard and many a nights burn the midnight oil just to get things done. Then, all that changed.

Fatherhood
In 2011, Moses (our first son) was born. My wife and I would take turns to do the nightly feeds. As his night feeding patterns were rather consistent, I’d usually stay up late to do my work and then I would feed him before going to bed at around midnight. My wife would then do the early morning feed. As a result, I would usually wake up to find everyone awoken.

What If…
Now, what if my son starts thinking: “Daddy always sleeps in and doesn’t get up early to play with me“. Over time, this might escalate to: “Daddy always wake up late“. Eventually it may even be: “Daddy is lazy“.

Role-Model
First of all, I don’t ever want to be perceived as being lazy by my own children. Besides, my life-long goal in this area is to be “a role-model for my children“. Hence, being lazy is the last thing I want my children to think of me.

Secondly, I figured that if I get up late, though I have legitimate reasons for; I would miss out on preparing breakfast for my kids, showering them, getting them ready for school. Instead, I would usually wake up late and everyone would have gone to school! And that’s missing out a lot!

Discipline
Hence the decision to rise early.¬†However, the spirit maybe willing but the flesh is indeed weak. Let me explain. In my first few attempts to getting up early, not only did I not get up on time, but my alarm would wake everyone up except me. So, when Jawbone UP was released, I immediately pre-ordered it. That did solve part of my problem (at least it’s a silent alarm) but I was still having trouble getting up that early. And those days that I manage to rise before everyone else, it was not only painful, but I was also thinking to myself; now that I’m awake, what am I gonna do?

Morning Ritual
Over time I’ve tried various activities that I would do during those early hours and have continually evolved ever since. Just this year (2013), we have another new-born and with her arrival meant a reshuffling of my schedule again.

That said, the activities that I would do during those early hours would be this:

  • Wake up
  • Drink at least two glasses of water
  • Read the Bible (parts from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalm, and Proverbs – I follow this reading plan)
  • Write my daily devotion, like this one, to help me translate a portion of the Scripture I read into practical daily living
  • Workout
  • Shower, eat breakfast, and prepare breakfast for the kids
  • Wash up the kids
  • Send him off to school

I have been doing this for more than six months now. I probably do this like 80% of the time, as sometimes my schedule goes out of whacked and it throws me off. But nonetheless, I’ve always made sure that I come back to this morning schedule.

Discipline, and Freedom
In the beginning it was painful. I still recall my wife suffering along, as being a light sleeper meant that when my alarm goes off, she would be awaken, and she sometimes finds it hard to get back to sleep. But as I persist on and kept reminding myself why I’m doing this (to be a role-model for my children) it eventually frees me from wanting to be comfortable. And as I free myself from that comfort zone, I grow. And as I grow, I can better contribute.

Question
Do you have a morning ritual? And what does it look like?

Prayer
Father we pray that as we exercise discipline, it frees us from being comfortable as being comfortable leads to mediocrity. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.