By: Eddie McFalls

Reflections on Chapter 8 of Spiritual Leadership by Oswald Sanders.

At the risk of sounding sophomoric, adolescent or juvenile let me just say “Wow!” This chapter “runneth over” with content that pierces the façade of having it all together and touches the center of the inner man. With so many substantial thoughts and subjects addressed here it is pertinent for me to focus on a single concept. 

Dr. Sanders writes, “Without this essential quality, all other gifts remain as dwarfs: they cannot grow. So discipline appears first on our list.” I recall as a youngster in Sunday School hearing the term “disciple” used quite often. It was how The Twelve were addressed; it was how those who believed on Jesus as Savior were addressed; we, the students, were spoken of using the term. It seems that somewhere along the line the term has fallen out of fashion.

If you will allow me, I’ll share with you why this may have come about. The word disciple and discipline have the same root. To be a disciple means to be adhering to the discipline of another. In other words, I’m permitting someone to structure, or possibly the more accurate term would be restructure, my life. A real-life example is a young person enlisting in the military. Boot camp or basic training is all about learning a new way of living, the military’s way. There is an array of details to learn and put into practice. There remains throughout their stint constant reminders that they are to live differently than their civilian peers. Having said that, I feel the term disciple has fallen out of use in many Christian circles because folks don’t like the idea of granting anyone power over their lives. Many are thrilled to say Jesus is my Savior – He loves me and forgives me. But a lot of us shrink back at crowning Him Lord – making Him the complete boss, the controller of my life. I like being a benefactor of His, but I’m not so keen on being a disciple of His. 

Maybe it’s more of a Western society thing. Just think of all the phrases we pull together trying to describe the programs we implement for those new to our congregation. When was the last time you heard someone say with a beaming grin, “This is our Bible based discipleship curriculum that will help you truly become a disciple of The Lord Jesus Christ?” Ok, I get it. Terms in the English language come and go. Notwithstanding, I think you know what I saying.

Jesus led The Twelve through some forty-two months of discipleship. It was pretty much 24/7. They learned many things; they relearned many things; they even tried to unlearn some things that they had learned prior to meeting Jesus. 

I’m veering off the subject. The concept Dr. Sanders wrote about was discipline to become a leader. He stated, “A leader is a person who has learned to obey a discipline imposed from without, and has then taken on a more rigorous discipline from within.” One might say, the idea has become internalized. It has genuinely become not just part of who I am, but it is who I am. James wrote of the “engrafted word” (1:21 KJV).

The real-world application may look a little differently in each life, but it must be there. Discipline. A decided, organized effort with the aim of becoming more then I’ve ever been for Christ and His Kingdom.