Anyone who has ever honed a special skill or talent knows that it takes a steady diet of hard work and consistency to get really good at doing whatever you do. Discipline is necessary to become a great musician, a winning athlete, or an accomplished writer. It’s also a prerequisite to becoming a martial arts master.
Hiyori Moritani would rather go on a date with Manabe than train in her family dojo. In fact, by episode three of Kotoura-san, she’s made several comments about how she disliked karate, or least having the expectations of her family upon her. And yet, there seems to be no coubt that she has the talent and skill to inherit her family’s business. And that doesn’t come out of the blue – discipline is a required ingredient that must be poured in for the talent to translate into skill.
The spiritual life is no different. We get better at our, well, disciplines, as we discipline ourselves. At my life group meeting last week, I admitted that I’ve lacked spiritual discipline and longed for my 20-year-old self, who set aside a good chunk of time each day for prayer and scripture reading. The more you let yourself slack in these areas (as is the case with most things in life), the harder it is to develop these portions of your walk. If I don’t invest in prayer, how can I expect my prayer life to thrive?
The same can be said of developing spiritual gifts. If one has a gift of preaching, it goes undeveloped and underused if that person doesn’t use it and practice at it. We’re no programmed to give 100% performances at the touch of a button, no matter our level of talent.
A funny thing about discipline is that, while the word may have a slightly negative, or least challenging tone, it often leads to something unexpected. All those endless hours and hard work often develop a love for whatever you’re practicing at. A gymnast may fall off a balance beam a hundred times, but loves the rush of nailing the routine. On a personal note, I inwardly complain about the pain of running, but am overjoyed when I reach a personal best time. And in prayer, it may be difficult to be motivated to spend time along with God, but a good conversation with Him provides a real sense of calm, peace, and joy.
My guess is that Hiyori might hate the expectations put upon her, and might even hate training, but somewhere deep inside, she loves what she does. It’s difficult to become really good at something without discipline; and it’s hard to discipline oneself without love.
And if you love something – whether it’s karate or prayer or something else – you’ll accept (and thrive) on the pain of discipline, because it’s worth it.