Freedom always has a cost. A few recent American holidays highlight this truth.
On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who died while serving our country. Freedom isn’t free.
On Juneteenth, we celebrate the liberation of the last slaves to be set free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Freedom isn’t free.
On July 4th, we celebrate independence as a country. The original signers of the Declaration of Independence risked their lives by autographing the document. Freedom isn’t free.
On a smaller scale, there are personal freedoms we have an opportunity to fight for. These freedoms also have a cost.
That cost? Discipline…
Freedom On the Court: The “green light” — The freedom to shoot at discretion, take risks, and play through mistakes. Every player wants it. The reality, only those who have put in the work to develop their skills earn the opportunity to do so. My friend, Jon Diebler, is the all-time leading scorer in Ohio HS basketball history (yes, more than Lebron). He told me a teammate confronted him on the number of shots he was taking in games. Jon’s response, “When you’re in the gym as much as me…let’s talk.”
Freedom Financially: To not have to work. It’s the goal when planning for retirement. When can I stop working but still live the lifestyle I desire? The reality, one must live below their means for decades to achieve this. They must build assets that outpace their lifestyle and inflation. This takes budgeting and planning. Above all, it takes discipline.
Freedom in Career: To have a calling, not a job. To believe in, enjoy, and be passionate about the work you do. The reality, callings don’t come through your first paycheck. They’re discovered through taking action, through trial and error, and by doing the dirty work. Over time, skills are built, passions grow, and opportunities are created. No more job.
Freedom With Time: To be in control of your calendar. To be the director of your destiny. The reality, there are multiple activities every day to distract. It takes discipline to say, “NO.” It’s neglecting the “FOMO.” It means prioritizing what’s most important — committing to those few things — and giving the rest of your schedule some breathing room.
Freedom Physically: We all want to feel good and to feel good about the way we look. The reality, that doesn’t come without healthy habits. It’s easier to sleep in and not work out. It’s quicker and cheaper to eat microwaved meals or go through the drive-thru. It takes discipline to consistently work out and fill our pantries with healthy food. My biggest struggle? Not eating a gallon of ice cream when writing a newsletter after 11 pm.
Freedom Spiritually: In the book Celebrations of Discipline, the author writes on inward disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, and study), outward disciplines (simplicity, solitude, submission, and service), and corporate disciplines (confession, worship, guidance, and celebration). It’s an intimidating list. The reality, each of those disciplines offers a path to gain freedom over sin, guilt, unforgiveness, gluttony, apathy, lust, and pride. The disciplines are for our benefit and should even be celebrated.
I’m convicted writing this! I see how discipline can significantly improve and bring freedom in every aspect of my life. And the reality? It’s entirely up to me.
It’s helpful to adopt a different definition for discipline. Too often I think of discipline solely as a reactive tool (punishment). But it also means training. It’s proactive. It’s intentional. It’s for a better tomorrow.
There is a price to pay. It often means sacrifice in the moment, but it provides the foundation for growth…and freedom.