Since we are now starting the new school year, it makes sense to talk about the one topic everyone wants to talk about but never actually apply: discipline. 

So Why Discipline?

Simply put, we need to talk about discipline because without discipline, you will never truly be free. Freedom and discipline go hand in hand. So what is discipline? Discipline is “when you keep yourself from something you desire … so you do not submit to a certain feeling or internal motive but you control yourself.” (SUS) At its core, discipline is a teacher of virtues because if we are armed with it, we can hold ourselves in the same sense of balance St Athanasius praised St Anthony for. Balance requires wisdom, and wisdom begins with the fear of God (Prov 9:10), and the fear of God cannot be attained without discipline. But what does balance have to do with freedom? When a person is balanced, they are not tied to any one position and are not controlled by any one force. They are free. There is a quote by a man named Phillip Brooks that says, “No man in this world attains freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude.” So the question becomes who or what do you wish to serve? Many people would have the gut reflex of answering “God” to this question. But why? Why do you wish to serve God? Is it only because you’ve been told to do so your entire life, or is it because you truly believe that He has your best interest at heart, loves you, cares for you, and wants you to take your place on the throne He prepared for you in Heaven? A lot of people want to serve Him in theory, but when it comes to their lives they don’t want their lives to be affected by their service to God. People will still want to take the easy way out and cheat on exams or copy homework or skip their spiritual cannon for the day or whatever it is that they know is not right, but they do it anyway because they don’t want to have to change their lifestyle dramatically in order to match their ideals. This is where discipline comes in. 


Spiritual Discipline

Spiritual discipline is needed to begin and continue a relationship with Christ because “whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” (Prov 25:28) Anything and everything will come in and destroy any hope of virtue he attempts to nourish. He does not say to himself, “let me rest today and work on my relationship with God tomorrow.” His Holiness Pope Shenouda III responds to that person saying, “The spiritual man does not run away from labor in search of rest.” (The Spiritual Man). Moreover, Hebrews 3:15 says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” The easiest way to begin a life of discipline is to start with what is material and in front of you: food/appetite, tongue/speech, senses, material possessions. If you begin by guarding these things (under the guidance of your Father of Confession of course), you will be well on your way to being able to guard against the more spiritual attacks.


Academic/Professional Discipline

Academic and professional discipline is much easier to implement. St Paul explains, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23-24) Your school work and work life is service to God. If you do not do it honestly, with integrity, and to the best of your ability, then God will ask you why just like He did with the foolish servant who had one talent and buried it in the ground. Forget the servant. If you are dating someone and he or she promised to plan a date for next week and an hour before the date, they said they were feeling tired and decided unilaterally to not plan it and just cancel or, worse, they had their classmate plan the date for them, how would you feel? God gave us the ability and the resources to enjoy the fruits of a higher education so that we can use that education to praise Him and allow Him to give us crowns in Heaven. How is He supposed to feel when you use that time to sleep or waste time and then, at the end, when you get your degree, go ahead and tell Him that you learned nothing and don’t know if you can do your job correctly and can’t find Him in it? He is waiting for you in your career choice to meet with you. Will you keep Him waiting because you copied all your homework assignments from Chegg and now don’t know how to do your job? Are you going to make Him wait until you Google the simplest facts that you should have learned in school?

Discipline, in general, is an extremely simple concept: are you going to do what it takes to make God proud or are you going to keep Him waiting?




  1.     The Spiritual Man by HHPSIII
  2.     Words of Spiritual Benefit by HHPSIII
  3.     Ten Concepts by HHPSIII
  4.     The Spirituality of Fasting by HHPSIII
  5.     The Book of Hosea By Abouna Tadros Malaty
  6.     Way of the Ascetics by Tito Colliander
  7.     Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis
  8.     Way of the Pilgrim by unknown Russian monk
  9.     Abba Isaiah of El Eskeet: His Life, His Teaching, and His Writings by HGB Asheia, Bishop of Tanta and Gehina
  10. “Balanced Christian Student” by HGB Youssef, Bishop of the Southern US Diocese (This one is a recording on SoundCloud.)