Susan’s washing machine quit working so she called a repairman.
Since she had to go to work the next day, she told the repairman, “I’ll leave the key with my next door neighbor. Fix the washing machine, leave the bill on the counter, and I’ll have somebody send you the payment.
“Oh, by the way, don’t worry about my Rottweiler. He won’t bother you. But, whatever you do, do NOT, under ANY circumstances, talk to my parrot! I REPEAT, DO NOT TALK TO MY PARROT!!!”
When the repairman arrived at Susan’s apartment the following day, he discovered the biggest, meanest-looking Rottweiler he had ever seen. But, just as she had said, the dog just lay there on the carpet, watching the repairman go about his work.
The parrot, however, drove him nuts the whole time with his incessant yelling and name calling. Finally, the repairman couldn’t contain himself any longer and yelled, “Shut up, you stupid, ugly bird!”
To which the parrot replied, “Get him, Spike!”
That’s what happens to people who do not follow instructions.
Following instructions is simply discipline in action. Discipline is inevitable. We either discipline ourselves, or life brings other people to do it for us.
Don’t you hate those awful pink fences that line up the major streets in our Metropolis? Fences to keep people from jaywalking, fences to keep vehicles in their proper places, fences to keep buses from wandering and the question is why are those ugly fences there in the first place? Because motorists and pedestrians do not want to follow instructions and so somebody has to do something to force us to follow.
Fences enclose. Fences restrict freedom. But the irony behind those fences is that they were put there because of a lot of people’s insistence to do what they want rather than obeying orders and following instructions.
Now there is the great analogy about pink fences and our personal life.
We all long for freedom and the ability to “do whatever I want.” And yet, the successful people who seem to have the most freedom also happen to be the most disciplined, the most focused and self-directed people I have ever met.
Many people think that freedom is the right to do whatever they want, whenever they want, sleep all morning, enjoy happy hour, act on impulse and charge their credit cards to the max. Take a little sip here, take a little drag there, snort it up, gulp it down, inject it into their veins, jump from one bed to another and pretty soon they find themselves losing the very freedom they want; chained by chaos, conflict and frustration living an undisciplined life that leads to disappointment and pain.
Discipline is inevitable. We either discipline ourselves, or life brings other people to do it for us. We either manage our lives on our own, or we lose the very freedom we cherish.
We either practice self-discipline or pretty soon our creditors “convince” us to work more hours. Our bosses “persuade” us to work harder or longer or smarter. Our families “encourage” us to do our work, fulfill our responsibilities and “behave ourselves.” Taken to the extreme, eventually people with uniforms and titles like “guards” or “warden” will structure our time and our lives for us.
Look at the way we rear up our kids.
Children are not expected to know how to structure their lives, so parents teach them. Parents get them up for school and remind them to make their beds or do their chores. Parents are charged with teaching children that joy is the REWARD for effort and discipline. This is why it is good to have children involved in competitive sports. As they practice, work hard and fulfill their commitments, they gain skill, and skill leads to victory and celebration on the playing field, and in life.
Freedom therefore is the RESULT of a great life, not the raw material.
If we start by living a free and undisciplined life, true freedom slips away. It gets lost in a thousand petty or careless “little” decisions that eventually deny us the life we want.
You know the old cliché, but it still rings true today. You cannot have freedom without responsibility. Simply put, you cannot live an undisciplined life and expect to be free to live the life you want. Do you know how freedom is destroyed? The answer is simple. By abusing it as well as taking it away.
Begin with a handful of daily commitments that suit your unique situation.
Pray. Work. Exercise. Eat healthy. Read. Stay faithful – in your work and in your family.
Be productive. Do it now! Build the habit of personal discipline. It’s the road to personal freedom. And when we have learned discipline as a people…then maybe…those pink fences would go away.