For several years, education folks I follow on Twitter have selected one word to guide their work and life in the coming year. This is in lieu of traditional resolutions that are often quickly discarded. For myself, one word has seemed limiting and less than helpful. For instance, in 2020 I posted about three words I selected, thinking that these would better serve my life and work than a single word focus. The past two years I have not chosen any word at all, drifting along with the days and weeks instead.
A few days ago my wife asked which word I would be selecting for 2023. Honestly, I had not thought about doing this again, but then one particular word came to the forefront of my initial thoughts — a word that is often taken as a negative, but in its original sense, should not be taken that way. That word is discipline.
To understand why I have opted for this word of focus it might be helpful to review the origins of the word. According to Merriam-Webster, “Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil, which also provided the source of the word disciple.” One of the great spiritual revelations that I had while in college was the intimate connection between the word discipline and the act of being a disciple. In other words, discipline moved from a word with a negative connotation to a word with a positive perspective. Being disciplined provides me a better opportunity to be a disciple of Christ, sharing His love and forgiveness in whatever setting I find myself.
So does this mean I haven’t been disciplined in my life and work? Not necessarily, but I do feel that some of my education and learning habits are not the same as what they were three years ago prior to the onset of COVID. Perhaps the pandemic as gently led me to some new disciplines in work and living, ones that are not as precise as they were before. Maybe some of this is due to the aging process. I may not be doing as much research as before since I have not been asked to speak and consult with other groups nearly as much as before March 2020. For whatever reason, restoring a little stronger sense of personal discipline is what I am striving for in 2023, not to put any spotlight on me, but to be a more effective disciple of Jesus Christ.
There is something about publicly declaring something that provides incentive to make it happen, so you are deputized as readers to help hold me gently accountable for discipline in 2023.
What about you? Do you have a word on which you are focusing in the new year. Is there some area where I can help with gentle accountability? Let’s build community in 2023 to better accomplish what God has set before us in the next 12 months!