By Joy Haney
“I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (I Corinthians 9:27).
Every person has an empire to rule. It is the inner self. The daily decisions that every individual makes will either refine or pollute the empire. Time has a way of revealing the way a person rules; for decisions made concerning the raging war within will eventually be etched upon each face. People do not just evolve into a certain person, but choices help form what they become. Those who rule with determination, resolve, and strength of will always have more control over self; therefore, they will have a more fruitful life.
What we do on some great occasion will probably depend on what we already are; and what we are will be the result of previous years of self-discipline.
-H.P. Liddon (1829-1890) English pulpit orator, professor at Oxford (1870-1882). Chancellor in 1886 of St. Paul’s Cathedral
It is not the giving in to the whims of self indulgence that make a person truly happy; it is the mastery over things that cause them to be more self-reliant and progressive. Self-destruction is the soul mate of those who have no control over that which dominates them, and it finally brings them to a feeling of self-hatred. It is not the lack of passions that can destroy a person; instead it is the complete control of passions that bring a feeling of well-being.
The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.
– Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1802) poet, the most famous of the Victorian age
Proverbs 14:29 says, “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” To be able to rule the spirit is a sign of greatness, as Proverbs 16:32 states: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Restraint and self-control are almost foreign words to some, but they are still words of power! Those who wish to lead and to control other entities must first learn to control themselves. The excuses often given are simply a giving in to self-indulgence and perpetuating a weakness of will. Power is there for those who long for it, but it must be a burning desire within, in order to attain it.
Such power there is in clear-eyed self-restraint.
– James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) Outstanding American poet, as well as a literary critic, professor of modem languages at Harvard, and diplomat
James Lowell attended Harvard simply because it was a family tradition for him, but while there he neglected all his work except literature and languages and almost failed to get his degree. In 1840, he graduated from Harvard Law School but was never much interested in the practice of law. While waiting for legal business, he wrote poetry. His first volume of poems, A Year’s Life, was published in 1841. He dedicated it to Maria White, the young poet and reformer whom he married. Her influence on Lowell was great. She led him to take a stand against slavery and to support other reform movements. Lowell was famous for his Biglow Papers.
The first of these political satires in verse appeared in the Boston Courier in 1846. In 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed him United States Minister to Spain. After three years in Spain, Lowell was transferred to England. His diplomatic duties required little of him except to build up good will for the United States. But his uprightness, learning, humor, and brilliant oratory made him a prominent man in England. It was his wife who became the catalyst that helped him to develop self-discipline and thus to become a happier man.
There are three important areas that need to be addressed so one can work at having authority himself: the disciplines of the mind, tongue, and one’s time. If the mind comes under the authority of the will, the person will become stronger because the mind will cause the person to do what is right in all areas of his life. And since the things that are spoken literally help to form our destiny, the tongue must be ruled in a steadfast manner lastly, anyone who does not discipline his time will be more likely to fail and to stumble through life instead of attaining inward success.
Discipline the mind!
Even if a person does not speak, his actions will tell what he is thinking, for it is the doing that reveals the thinking.
The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
– John Locke (1632-1704) English physician
Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.
– Ralf Waldo Emerson
Believe In the Heroic
“Ah!” said Coningsby,
“I should like to be a great man!”
The stranger threw at him a scrutinizing glance. His countenance was serious.
He said in a voice of almost solemn melody: “Nurture your mind with great thoughts.
To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
– Benjamin Disrali
Thinking is so powerful that it rules a person! If someone thinks he can do something, look out; it shall be done, but if he believes he can’t, then that same belief system will hinder him from doing what he could do if he thought he could do it.
Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
– Henry Ford
A man to carry on a successful business must have imagination. He must see things as in a vision, a dream of the whole thing.
– Charles M. Schwab
Henry Ford said: “Anyone who stops learning is old whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” This is done through self-discipline and continually studying, learning, and keeping an open mind.
Richard W. Campbell, who achieved a phenomenal record selling life insurance for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company, said, “In this world, we either discipline ourselves, or we are disciplined by the world.” He said that before he became successful nobody could get much lower in spirit and more discouraged than he was. He couldn’t pay his bills and was always broke. The tougher things got; the fewer people he called on. He became so ashamed of his reports that he began to pad them with calls he never made.
He said he began to cheat himself. One day he drove way out into the country on a lonely road and turned off the ignition. He sat there for three hours. He asked himself, “Why did you do this?” He said, “Campbell, if that’s the kind of fellow you are if you’re going to be crooked with yourself, you’re going to be crooked with the other fellow. You’re doomed to failure! There’s only one choice to make, and the choice must be made by you and now. No other time will do it’s got to be done now!” He chose to discipline his mind before he could influence other people.
Winston Churchill, in an autobiography written in 1930, My Early Life, expressed his regret that he did not have university training. Even though he regretted his waste of time, it caused him to write, “But I now pity undergraduates, when I see what frivolous lives many of them lead in the midst of precious, fleeting opportunity. After all, a man’s life must be nailed to a cross, either of thought or of action. Without work, there is no play.”
Disciplining the mind is the best thing a person can do for himself, because that is the force that rules his life. The theme of Proverbs 23:7, “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” has been expounded on by many writers. James Allen wrote his famous book, As a Man Thinketh, from the basis of this passage. He wrote, “A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglect, it must, and will bring forth.
If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein; and will continue to produce their kind. Just as the gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.” Disciplining the mind should become one of the most important things we do in life, for in doing do, we help shape our destiny.
Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.
-William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) Noted orator and statesman from 1891-1895 he served in the United States House of Representatives.
Discipline the tongue!
To discipline the tongue is to save one from much regret, the possibility of the loss of friends, and ill will. The tongue can generate much good or much evil as stated in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” It is the one thing that can spark a fire from
which the heat can be felt around the world. The importance of the tongue must be impressed upon our consciousness. Wise are the people who learn to teach their mouth what to say, as recorded in Proverbs 16:23: “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.
Govern the lips as they were palace doors, the king within: tranquil and fair and courteous be, all words which from that presence win.
– Sir Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) English author
It is best to leave things unsaid than to say them is they would cause broken friendships, family misunderstanding, or inward agony. A person is judged by what he says and how he says it. Words can be as razors or swords, or they can be gentle and soothing. The tongue is a mighty emperor and, if used correctly, can rule the masses. It was not the length of Abraham Lincoln’s words but the message he delivered. The brevity was more effective than a long discourse. Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
These words are found in Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.”
Frank Bettger, who became one of the world’s greatest salesmen, realized this truth also and reflected this in his writings, “Overtalking is one of the worst of all social faults.”
He acknowledged that he had the problem, and one day one of his best friends took him aside and said, “Frank, I can’t ask you a question without your taking fifteen minutes to answer it, when it should only take one sentence!” Bettger further stated, “But the thing that really shook me awake was the time I was interviewing a busy executive, and he said: ‘Come to the point!
Never mind all those details.’ He didn’t care anything about the arithmetic. He wanted the answer. I got to thinking about the sales I had probably lost, the friends I had bored and the time I had lost.” Mencius, the Chinese philosopher, told the story: “Frogs croak day and night, yet men loathe them. But when the cock crows only once, everything under the sky comes into motion. It is important to speak at the proper time, and that is all. What is the good of talking much?”
The truth of saying too much is reflected in the writings of many famous men and women. The story is told of how a young man was sent to Socrates to learn oratory. On being introduced to the philosopher, he talked so incessantly that Socrates asked for double fees. “Why charge me double?” he asked.
“Because I must teach you two sciences: the one how to hold your tongue and the other how to speak. The first science is the more difficult, but aim at proficiency at it, or you will suffer greatly and create trouble without end.” To control and discipline the tongue is one of the first things a successful person must learn to do. This will lead to a feeling of self-respect and respect from others. It is a victory that is worth the fight that it takes to win.
There is no finer sensation in life than that which comes with victory over one’s sell It feels good to go fronting into a hard wind, winning against its power; but it feels a thousand times better to go forward to a goal of inward achievement, brushing aside all your old internal enemies as you advance.
– Vash Young (1888-?) American author
Discipline your time!
Time is one of the greatest gifts to mankind. What is done with this gift depends largely on the individual. To be able to budget time and spend it more wisely is in the same category of budgeting one’s money. To lose control of how money is spent is a disaster. It is just as disastrous to lose control over one’s time. To feel tense and driven because of a lack of planning and budgeting of time is a modern-day malady.
Arnold Bennett penned one of the greatest discourses on time. He was a low-paid young clerk in a London law office but dreamed of a brilliant and successful writing career. He felt like he had the essential qualities to do this, but he had no time or so he thought. The more he thought about his dilemma, the more he realized that time was his most precious commodity and that he must not waste any of it. Arnold began to budget his time and worked out a system of self-discipline, permitting no waste of precious time to interfere with his plans. He found that his plan worked. He budgeted his time so that every hour served some useful purpose. Stories and articles that he had written began to be published. Then his first novel was published and his writing began to attract attention.
People would often ask him the question, “Where do you find the time?” This irritated him every time he heard it. He did not find time; he utilized the same time that everyone else had. It was the way he used his time that made the difference. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he wanted to write a book about the subject, so he did. Following is an excerpt from the book, how to live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day: Time is the inexplicable raw material of everything. With it, all is possible; without it, nothing. The supply of time is truly a daily miracle, an affair genuinely astonishing when one examines it.
You wake up in the morning, and lo your purse is magically filled with twenty-four hours of the unmanufactured tissue of the universe of your life! It is yours. It is the most precious of possessions. No one can take it from you. It is unstealable. And no one receives either more or less than you receive. We never shall have any more time. We have, and we have always had, all the time there is. Arnold Bennett’s book made people keenly aware of the value of time and the importance of using leisure time to some advantage instead of just flittering it away. The book was a success. The message of the book is still true and can help anyone learn to budget his time more carefully so he can reach their deams.
A good name, a glow of satisfaction, fulfillment: these should be what spur people to greater things, not just attaining money. Success isn’t so much about money, although it is good to have enough to live comfortably and to be able to give to God’s kingdom. Making money does not mean success. William James once wrote: “The cash interpretation put upon the word ‘success’ is our national disease.”‘ True success is the light within, the delight that comes from reaching a goal or of accomplishing something worthwhile.
Success Story: Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison did not give up when his first efforts to find an effective filament for the carbon incandescent lamp failed. He did countless experiments with countless kinds of materials, and as each failed, he would toss it out the window. The pile reached to the second story of his house. Then he sent men to China, Japan, South America, Asia, Jamaica, Ceylon, and Burma in search of fibers and grasses to be tested in his laboratory. One weary day on October 21, 1879 after thirteen months of repeated failures he succeeded in his search for a filament that would stand the stress of electric current.
This was how it happened: Casually picking up a bit of lampblack, he mixed it with tar and rolled it into a thin thread. Then the thought occurred: Why not try a carbonized cotton fiber? For five hours he worked, but it broke before he could remove the mold. Two spools of thread were used up. At last a perfect string emerged only to be ruined when trying to place it in a glass tube. Edison refused to admit defeat. He continued without sleep for two days and nights. Finally, he managed to slip one of the carbonized threads into a vacuum-sealed bulb. And he turned on the current. “The sight we had so long desired to see finally met our eyes.”
The greatest test of a man’s character is how he takes charge of his own life. Harry E. Fosdick once wrote, “No man need stay the way he is.” It was Edison’s persistence and self-discipline amidst such discouraging odds that has given the world the wonderful electric light. He took charge of his life in spite of his handicaps.
If there is such a thing as luck, then I must be the most unlucky fellow in the world. I’ve never once made a lucky strike in all my life. When I get after something that I need, I start finding everything in the world that I don’t need. I find ninety-nine things that I don’t need, and then comes number one hundred and that at the very last turns out to be just what I had been looking for.
– Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
No man can produce great things who is not thoroughly sincere in dealing with himself.
-James Russell Lowell
Self-Control Have I the ability to hold the master of myself under trying circumstances? Have I the ability to be pleasant and considerate even though others are unfair and irritable?
– The Pythagorean
To Conquer Self
‘Tis a good thing sometimes to be alone, Sit calmly down, search every secret place.
Prayerfully uproot the baneful seeds there sown, Pluck out the weeds ere the full crop is grown, Gird up the loins afresh to run the race,
Foster all noble thoughts, cast out the base,
Thrust forth the bad, and make the good thine own. Who has this courage thus to look within,
Keep faithful watch and ward with inner eyes; The foe may harass, but can ne’er surprise,
Or over him ignoble conquest win.
Oh, doubt it not, if thou wouldst wear the crown, Self, baser self, must first be trampled down.
– John Askham
The virtue of all achievement is victory over oneself Those who know this victory can never know defeat.
– A. J. Cronin
Taken from “The Old Soldier’s Prayer”
“And after all these things are his, add,
I pray, enough of a sense of humor,
so that he may always be serious,
yet never take himself too seriously.
Give him humility,
so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness,
the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength.
“Then I, his father, will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain’.”
-General Douglas A. MacArthur
“This article “Be Self Disciplined” was taken from “Seeds for Success” By Joy Haney and may only be used for study and research purposes only.”