discipline and delight

there's a place for discipline.
just ask my 16 month old, who has been disciplined many times when she gets too close to the gas fireplace. just ask her little burnt fingers how much they wish she'd obeyed.
but it falls short when we need serious motivation.

because from discipline, if used alone, motivation becomes about performance, and when we fall short, it becomes about guilt.

probably a good time to ask you guys, one week in, how your New Year's Resolutions are going? ha! guilt. 

listening to a Matt Chandler sermon right now on prayer and my first thought was "oh man, I'm so weak in this area.... I don't pray as much as I should.... I need to do this more... my poor kids and husband - I don't pray for them enough.... I don't model a life of prayer to my community enough...." and on and on it goes. prayer is a discipline (we have to work at it, it doesn't come naturally), but if it's just that, it's just another area where we're performing or failing or both. if we're motivated by fear of God's discipline we might obey, but it's for the wrong reasons.

enter: delight.
what if we delighted to pray? what if we remembered that when we pray, we feel God's presence. His peace. His guidance. His beauty. that delight, when recalled, is a much greater motivator for me. but more importantly, what if we remembered that God delights in us? that even when we've failed 1,000 times, we should keep going (read: be motivated) because he delights in us communicating with him (in this case prayer). he delights in us.

here's a word picture for you that helped me:
his little girl leaps into his arms when he comes home from work.
there's never been a day in her life where she's obeyed all the rules and expectations of their household.
she's always fallen short.
yet.... when he comes home she runs down the stairs and leaps into his arms.
she still wants to jump into his arms, despite knowing she falls short of his standards, because she can feel and she knows that he delights in her.

do I really believe that God delights in me? 
do I really believe that joy won't come in obeying if it's not fueled by joy in God and his reciprocal joy in us?

discipline seems harder but it's really easier. do this. don't do that. check check check.
delight seems easier but it's really harder. trust him. find joy in him. believe he loves you even at your darkest point.

what motivates you right now? 
discipline? or delight.


  1. em, that's so encouraging. i'm thinking i might have to listen to that sermon now.

  2. So encouraged. And convicted. I also have to listen to that sermon now!

  3. beautiful post Emily and speaks to something I'm working toward - the delight and joy. Realizing how I'm afraid to fully let joy take its full course. I love how the Lord uses so many ways to reconfirm what I think I'm hearing from Him. :)