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Joey-Bonifacio-Kevin-ConnerSitting at the airport in Singapore en route to home. After Sydney, we flew to Melbourne and had a lovely time with Pastor Kevin Conner and his wife, Rene. Now 86 years old, Pastor Kevin is a good friend of our ministry and has been a mentor of sorts to many of us through his teaching and writing.

Over dinner I was reminded of the many times this humble man of God has impacted my life and the lives of many others. Once, we asked him for his greatest tip for successful living. His reply was one word: Discipline. I couldn’t forget that learning moment with him.

When you think about it, discipline sounds very similar to disciple. I don’t know where we get the idea that in order to be a follower of Christ, we won’t need this important word that affects every facet of life.

The Bible bears out Pastor Kevin’s wise words—or should I say, word:

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, 'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you'” (Heb. 12:5, NIV).

God desires to discipline us. Yes, you read it right—desires. He knows that without discipline, we will not go the distance. The right response is not to be overwhelmed and lose heart. We are also warned not to take His discipline lightly:

"'Because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” (vv. 6-7).

Discipline is a mark of God’s love. It is a mark of God’s desire to make us His children. Endure it by viewing it as God treating you as His beloved child.

“If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all” (v. 8).

Fact is, everyone undergoes discipline. If you are not being disciplined, there is a measure of spiritual blindness in you. That blindness is probably because of illegitimacy in your relationship with God.

Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!" (v. 9).

Discipline is really about submitting our spirits to God.

They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness” (v. 10).

Discipline is not the goal; holiness is. Many times the reason we find ourselves in compromising situations is because of a lack of discipline, much like the disciples who fell asleep when Jesus was in the garden. The result was they abandoned him.

Actually, the real goal is not even holiness but to share in God’s holiness. The real goal is relationship.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (v. 11).

The funny thing about discipline is it is never pleasant. Often, it is painful. In the end, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace when we have become trained in it. Think about all the athletes, performers and leaders we emulate. We all appreciate the results of their discipline but would probably abhor the discipline it took to get them there.

The next time you feel like being lazy, taking a shortcut or settling for mediocrity, think of Pastor Kevin’s one word: discipline. May you have a revelation of its vital importance and be willing to embrace it in its various forms, realizing it’s the way to enjoy a relationship with God.

Joey Bonifacio is senior pastor of Victory Fort, one of 15 congregations that make up Victory Church in the metro Manila area of the Philippines. He is also the author of The LEGO Principle, which draws parallels between the famous toymaker and core discipleship elements. Visit Joey’s website at, or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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