Have you ever wondered what separates the self disciplined person from the undisciplined person? See if you can recognize the difference in this story.
A man decided that he wanted to become a tightrope walker. He had been friends with an experienced tightrope walker for years. He admired his older friend’s skill, fitness, and grace.
He envied how the crowd “Oohed” and “Ahhed” as his friend navigated a thin rope several feet high in the air. He saw how his friend drank in the crowd’s thunderous applause after he completed each dangerous stunt in triumph.
The man didn’t feel good about himself and he thought the key to change was getting the crowd’s approval. After all, he thought, that’s what his friend had and he was the most confident man he knew.
So one day, he told his tightrope-walker friend that he noticed a wire between 2 buildings downtown and he intended to walk across that. He was going to do it during the lunch hour when there would be lots of people around to see and applaud him.
“No!” The experienced tightrope walker said,” You’ve never even walked across a stick on the ground, never mind a tightrope. Let me train you. First, you’ll begin with a beam on the ground. That will start to train your balance.
Once you master crossing that, then we’ll raise the beam off the ground a few feet. We will keep raising the bar as you improve, giving you more complicated crossings to build up your skills. With time, you will learn to become experienced tightrope walker too.”
The man frowned. “That’s too much work! It will take too long. Plus, there is no crowd around to see me practice. I want that love and approval you get.”
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The friend shook his head. “You are only seeing the end of my story. You didn’t see the work it took to get here. I spent hours training – even when nobody was watching, even when nobody applauded me. I practiced every day. Sometimes, I even fell off the beam! But I got back up.
If you want to become a tightrope walker, that is what you must do. Plus, I don’t do this to get the crowd’s approval. That only lasts a short while anyway. I am doing this because I love to do it. Friend, you need to approve yourself right now for who you are – not because of what you do.”
But the man left the experienced tightrope walker, thinking he was going to do the stunt anyway. He wanted the shortcut to applause, not all that work and practice his friend talked about. Surely there was an easier way to becoming a professional tightrope walker! He was going to find that easier way.
A few weeks later, the experienced tightrope walker was shocked to see the man’s picture on the news. But it was not a happy news story. The man had attempted the tightrope walking stunt. However, he did not get the applause he was seeking. He only got the . of a horrified crowd as he fell to his death.
This man’s story illustrates an important key to self discipline – 1 key that he ignored. Did you guess what it was?
Hint: It’s also how God Himself operates!