Every man wants more freedom.
Freedom to go where he pleases, when he pleases, even if it’s to a lake to go fishing on a Tuesday afternoon. Freedom to eat what he pleases, even if it’s a California Burrito at 2am. Freedom to buy what he pleases, even if it’s a $50,000 dune buggy.
It’s the dream, the freedom to do whatever you want.
Kids are the best example of our innate desire for complete and utter freedom.
If they had their way, they’d eat cereal and ice cream for every meal and watch 12 hours of YouTube every day.
And that’s why kids need parents.
Parents have to discipline their children in the right way because naturally they would live a totally lame life.
And no one likes being disciplined. No one likes to be told what to do. No one likes not getting what they want.
My favorite example of the desire for freedom is dogs.
Dogs, just like humans, will do what comes naturally to them unless told otherwise. They’ll eat whatever’s on the ground or chew whatever’s within reach. And especially, they’ll pee and poop wherever they see fit.
My dog, Remy, is a young black pug who was especially defiant when we were potty training him.
As a puppy, Remy had about 5 bowel movements a day, and they could come at any time. Since we live in a small apartment with carpet everywhere except the kitchen and bathroom, we had to fence him up in the kitchen until we could trust him that he knew not to pee or poop on the carpet.
After many scoldings, treats, and paper towels, he managed to get better over time. Gradually, we’d expand his little dominion further and further out, even giving him a bit of carpet so he could get used to it. Eventually we even let him roam free after we saw that he’d already peed and pooped (that usually gave us about an hour of roaming time before his next bowel moment).
See, the more Remy proved he could go potty in the right place, the more freedom he was given to roam the house.
And this brings me to my point: discipline equals freedom.
The two are not diametrically opposed.
Jocko Willink is the champion of this idea, having spent many years as a decorated leader in the Navy Seals, co-founder of a multimillion dollar consulting company, podcaster, and author of several books.
“While Discipline and Freedom seem like they sit on opposite sides of the spectrum, they are actually very connected. Freedom is what everyone wants — to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline” he said in an interview with Forbes.
We cannot actually handle complete freedom. Given total freedom to whatever we want, we usually default to destructive things, or even to doing nothing at all. The fact is that freedom without bounds isn't freedom at all. We need discipline to fully enjoy, and fully take advantage of the freedom that we do have.
To get more free time, you must have a disciplined time management system.
To get more financial freedom, you must be more disciplined with your spending habits, budget, and investments.
To get more creative freedom at work, you need more discipline in the skills and systems you use to work.
To get more physical and athletic freedom, you need more discipline in your exercise routines, eating habits, and sleep habits.
To get more spiritual freedom from the Lord, you need more spiritual discipline to live out the Word and devote the time necessary to God.
To get more relational freedom with your wife, you must be disciplined in your love for her and your abstinence from lust over other women.
This principle is paralleled in Scripture as well, which we can see in Luke 16:10, "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.“
It comes down to stewardship. How will you handle what God has given you?
If you want God to poor out his blessing on you and use you for His works, you must prove that you will be a good steward of what He gives you.
Why would God put you in charge of much if you can’t be faithful with even a little?
It’s the same reason why lottery ticket winners go broke — no discipline equals no freedom.
The parable of the talents is the perfect example of this. The master gives each of his three servents a certain number of talents (money): five to the first, two to the second, and one to the third.
The first and second servants go out and invest it, doubling their investment by the time the master comes back.
“Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” What sweet words to hear.
The third buries his investment, digging it back up and showing no return on investment when the master returns. And it does not end well for that servant.
If you want to be a good steward of what God has given you (everything: life, family, relationships, money, talents, desires) then you must put the discipline equals freedom principle into action.
What areas do you want more freedom? Enact more discipline.