In “Look Down the Road“, Elder Alvin F. Meredith III states, “There is no discipleship without discipline.” This line jumped out at me when he said it in the General Conference and again when I reread his talk. Let’s discuss discipleship, discipline, and how they are related. Discipleship and discipline both derive from the word “disciple”. Disciple means student or pupil.
Discipleship is defined as “the condition or situation of being a disciple, or a student of some philosophy, especially a follower of Christ.” It leads the disciple to not only learn from a master but to become like the master as well.
The expectation of discipleship is to learn everything that the master has to teach, internalize it, and live it in such a way that it can be taught to another. In the case of Jesus Christ, our discipleship is to learn His gospel, live by its tenets, and help others feel the need to do the same.
We better our discipleship through our words, actions and examples. This is where discipline comes in.
The word discipline has several meanings. In fact on Dictionary.com, there are four definitions, three of which pertain to our topic.
- training to act in accordance to rules
- an activity, exercise, or regimen that develops or improves a skill
- a branch of instruction or learning
During His life, Jesus Christ was an example of all three of these. As a young man He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). There are several times mentioned when Jesus fasted and prayed and we may infer that those abilities were part of his daily regimen to improve His knowledge and His relationship with God. When he was twelve years old, he was found in the temple “sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions(JST, Luke 2:46). He started new branches of instruction with things like the two great commandments, turning the other cheek, and pulling out the beam in our own eye before removing the perceived mote in our brother’s.
In my life, I utilize all three of the definitions. I read my scriptures, Come Follow Me, and General Conference to train myself to act in accordance with the commandments. I have my AM/PM routine that helps me develop not only spiritual skills but physical and mental skills also. I have recently started to have more focused study on gospel topics, like temple covenants, that help me to understand the different “branches” if you will of learning the gospel.
Relationship Between Discipleship and Discipline
Having discipline allows for the Spirit to enter into our lives more freely and more fully. I find when I’m disciplined about my discipleship, inspiration and revelation are more prevalent. I also find that I hunger and thirst for more knowledge. This leads to a more productive gospel study. It also leads to better interactions with my spouse and children. I feel upbeat and enthusiastic. I have a more positive outlook on life.
The more disciplined we are in our discipleship, the closer we draw to God and Christ. Eventually, this will lead us to what He has asked us to be; “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:48)