“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge . . .” – Proverbs 12:1
My Dad was not always the firmest disciplinarian, but he could be when he had to. The last time I experienced it occurred after I was grown, married and had a child. I had been struggling with a carrier path, not sure what I wanted to do, when one evening I received a phone call from him sternly reminding me that I had a family to support and demanded in no uncertain terms that I get my rear in gear. As painful as that conversation was to endure, that kick in the pants was exactly what I needed at the time, and became the catalyst for what turned out to be a long, successful career.
Wisdom and discipline go hand in hand. Wisdom cannot be attained without discipline; neither will discipline be accepted unless there is a desire to learn. And it seems to me there are two sources from which we receive discipline. One is self-imposed or what we refer to as self-discipline. The other is the instructive, constructive, or corrective discipline we receive from someone else such as that imposed on me by my father. Both are essential if we want to learn, aspire to excel at something, or desire to gain wisdom. We must be self-disciplined and also be willing to accept discipline from others.
I read in an article recently that stated, “If you don’t want to learn, even years of schooling will teach you very little. But if you want to be taught, there is no end to what you can learn. This includes being willing to accept discipline and correction and to learn from the wisdom of others. A person who refuses constructive criticism has a problem with pride. Such a person is unlikely to learn very much.”
In my own life the times I have accepted discipline from others as I did from my Dad, success and accomplishment have ensued. Likewise, when I have been self-disciplined it has inevitably led to self-improvement. But too often pride has gotten in my way causing me to avoid constructive criticism from others, and that avoidance has been costly.
The writer of Proverbs encourages us to accept discipline: “He who listens to a life-giving rebuke,” he says, “will be at home among the wise.” (Proverbs 15:31)