What's so special about disciplines?


Spiritual disciplines help to keep our relationship with God in good working order, and even help develop intimacy. But no discipline is able to create or start one's relationship with God. Nothing we do can do that; Christ did it already. No discipline can earn us heavenly brownie points, because there are no such brownie points to earn. No discipline gives us even the briefest moment of escape from our broken nature. No discipline can make us more valuable as persons, or make us inherently more of a leader. Your life may go smoother because of it, but it may get much rougher, and neither is really the point of it.

Disciplines and practices are tools that are a part of cooperating with the Spirit on the task of remaking us into what God wants us to be. Tools, not magic, not willpower. Tools of surrender and remanufacture. Tools that are used with Scripture, not in its stead. Powerful tools, but only because of the powerful One we're working with. And you are not the foreman on this job.

Many people look to spiritual advisors or formal spiritual directors to help them uncover the way forward. Sometimes it's someone to guide them through certain practices or to help them notice the world around them in a truer manner. Sometimes it's helpful to just have another set of eyes look at how you live. But having someone(s) else to guide you can be a big blessing in many ways, ways that are a bit different with each person.