I’m currently reading some books in my men’s group. Right now, we are going through Who You Are When No One’s Looking by Bill Hybels. Today, our group talked about discipline and vision. Discipline, says Hybels, is simply “delayed gratification.” For example, you might choose delayed gratification when deciding to purchase a new car, with five year’s worth of high interest payments, from a shady fellow named “Sal” who constantly refers to himself in the third person. If you were to purchase that car on the spot, the car would lose approximately half of its value the moment you touched it (This might not occur if you got into the habit of washing your hands after you go to the bathroom). Now, this immediate loss in value should not necessarily bother you, because, actually, being the shrewd car-buyer that you are, you will have paid “Sal” twice what the car was worth, which means that, really, you’ll have broken even if you don’t think about it too slowly. The sad result will ultimately be that you will be saddled with a worthless car and burdened with excessive car payments. Your “instant gratification” will have only served to send Sal’s children to college: not a smart move…very sloppy…quite “undisciplined.” Now, let’s contrast our above example with the concept of “discipline” and “delayed gratification.” Discipline would tell you that you don’t need a long-term, high-interest car payment; you prefer to delay your gratification for the moment. Why? Because you know that the car you’ve had your eye on will still be sitting there after everyone leaves the lot in the evening and because you have a friend named “Earl” who claims to know how to hot-wire a car. Your disciplined instinct tells you that, if the car will be worthless after you drive it away, then only a fool would actually pay for it. Maybe your disciplined instinct has been enhanced by the power of excessive “beer gratification.” Who knows? What we do know is that this example wasn’t specifically in the book, and I’m not even sure that it leads to the same conclusions as the book. My example, however, does make one subtly profound point: if you’ve never seen the inside of a real jail, you can have that opportunity by simply following this example. All kidding aside, discipline is important and necessary in many areas of our life…now, why don’t you use a little discipline and wash your hands before touching any more cars.
March 26, 2008
A Textbook Example