We often think of parents discipling their children. But have you thought that discipling our children begins with discipling ourselves? In Deuteronomy 6 God starts with the parents: “These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Teach them diligently to your children…” Deut. 6:6-7 It starts with each one of us being transformed by God and His Word.

But How Does One Disciple One’s Self? It sometimes starts with a rebuke. “Better are the wounds of a friend than the kisses of an enemy.” Prov. 27:6 I remember when I was a youth pastor and the senior pastor left to go to another church. Our church decided to make me the interim pastor which forced me out of my comfort zone. I remember my first hospital visit with one of our elders, Dale Gabriel. Next to that sick parishioner, he was unbelievably kind and gracious, knew what to say and how to pray in that difficult situation.
When we got to the car, I was generous in my praise. I ended by saying, “You clearly have the gift of mercy. I wish I had that. But I don’t do compassion. If people want teaching, great. But if they want compassion, they’ll have to look elsewhere.” Dale was silent. As a matter of fact we did not talk the rest of the car ride home.
The next hospital visit, Dale had something to say, “Pastor, I was speechless when you said, ‘I don’t do compassion.” I had to do a little Bible study. I learned that there is a gift of mercy, but God does not let you off the hook so easily. It is a command, repeatedly in several places. It is a characteristic of Christ. He expects you to grow in Christ-likeness.”
“But, but…” I wanted to say. “I’m just not wired like that. It’s not my temperament.” But the Holy Spirit convicted me that Dale was right. To not “do compassion” was not an option, it was a sin.
Discipling One’s Self Begins with Conviction We have to see our immaturity as sin. We need to recognize a particular area of our lives as something out of sync with God’s Word and Christ’s character.  “Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do.” James 1:25
God’s Word is a plumb line, the tool used to tell if a wall is straight or crooked. We need to actively use it as a measure for how we should be living, like using the Fruit of the Spirit to tell if God is in control or if we are following our sin nature. A lack of kindness, joy, peace, patience, etc. is an indication that there is something amiss — either at the moment or in general.
Discipling One’s Self Involves Repentance — Stop making excuses. I could have fallen back on my rough childhood, my lack of a compassionate role model, my busy-ness covering two pastoral roles at once, and the list could have gone on and on. OR I could acknowledge to myself, “you are way off. You have no mercy within you. AND you don’t care! How arrogant to say, ‘I don’t do compassion’!” I had to look in the mirror of God’s Word and say, “I have a huge blemish, an oversized blackhead that needs lancing” and cry out to the heavenly Dr. Pimple Popper to do something radical to remove the hardness of my heart and infection of my soul.
Discipling One’s Self Involves Dying to Self and Presenting Oneself Alive to God — Romans 6 tells us that we choose what will rule over us, sin or righteousness: Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” Present that area of weakness and ask God to take it and turn it into an instrument (weapon) of righteousness.
Know Your Weakness and Besetting Sin — Identify the area that needs transformation into the image of Christ. Keep confessing and repenting. Don’t settle and believe the lie that people don’t change, can’t change. Keep presenting yourself as a living sacrifice. This is your spiritual form of worship. Reject being conformed to this world and keep being transformed by the renewing of your mind on God’s truth.
Know God’s Promise! “If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” 2 Cor, 5:17  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,” 2 Cor. 3:18
Each of Us Has a Problem — Improper or unkind speech, bitterness, pride, anxiety, lack of love, lack of humility in relating in areas of strong polarizing differences, greed, quickness to correct others, lack of respect, rebellion toward authority, impurity, unwillingness to stand for truth, lack of discernment (think of the men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12:32), and the list can go on and on. Each of us has a problem, each of us needs help, each of us has areas desperately needing discipleship.
 
Dear Lord, you know my own needy heart. Please step into the areas of my mind and heart that need to be taken captive. I lay them before You, I bring them to the foot of the cross. Thank you that you are faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from unrighteousness. Wash me and I will be clean. Holy Spirit, please step into those areas that need to be made instruments of Your righteousness and make me like Christ. Thank You, Jesus. Christopher
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