“To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.”
Proverbs 12:1 NLT
We broke the huddle in unison with a thunderous clap. Jogging up to the line of scrimmage I eyeballed the center’s feet and set my stance six inches apart from his right cleat. As the quarterback began to call out the cadence, our Offensive Coordinator, one of the largest men I would ever know bellowed out, “What the h#*% Catanella!? Fix your stance, you’re all cockeyed!!”
Maybe it was the cowboy collar I wore that made my stance off-kilter. Perhaps it was some sort of bodily imbalance. I could have been cheating in my stance to get ready to pull down the line. Whatever it was my coach hated it and he let me know. I should have used it to get better but if I’m honest it kinda ticked me off. I was blocking my guy hard off the ball play after play. Why was he correcting me?
When the Israelites had finally made it through the wilderness after forty years of wandering, things were looking up. Anything beats eating morning dew-wafers (aka manna) all day every day right? The Lord instructed Moses to send out an entourage of men to scope out Canaan, the God-promised land of milk and honey (see Numbers 13). They were knocking on the goal line and it was first and inches. But a series of events occurred that tripped Moses and his people up.
The men he sent out returned wide eyed and utterly impressed with the promised land. They exclaimed just how incredible this place was. This was truly an oasis, with grape clusters so large it took two men to carry them on a pole.
The problem was, all but two of them (my boys Caleb and Joshua) said God must have been wrong about them waltzing in and claiming the land because, oh, they had a little issue with it being a land of giants! The descendants of Anak (who the Israelites said made them feel like grasshoppers in comparison) already held down the promised land so these men decided to tuck tail and find another place to settle down.
God, furious with the disbelieving Israelites stepped in with some Heavenly discipline and grounded all those living Israelites. They would be forced to wander for another generation because of their doubt. Only Caleb and Joshua, men who faithfully believed that God would deliver this great gift to their people, would be allowed to one day cross into the promised land.
God’s hope was for the Israelites to learn to love discipline and not doubt Him in the future. He wanted them to use the correction as a reminder to stay away from false idols and other sinful acts. God’s correction has a purpose. Unfortunately the Israelites didn’t see it as an opportunity for learning and growth. Like me, they were ticked off and instead hated the correction.
Correction Has a Purpose
When’s the last time you noticed being corrected? It might not have been a blatant, “you’re doing it all wrong!” from a boss but more of a reactionary correction. You ate an extra dozen wings on top of the appetizer of three slices of pizza - correction hits you with heart burn and lethargy. You haven’t been getting enough sleep or time at the gym - correction hits you with higher anxiety and less self-confidence. You max out your third credit card and don’t have the means to pay them off anytime soon - correction hits you with a bad credit score and potentially a financial emergency.
Like me lining up at practice flustered and annoyed, we can choose to get mad at correction. Or, we can embrace it to become better disciplined in the future. The choice is ours and ours alone.
A Different Vantage Point
I can now see where my coach was coming from. As a has-been-athlete-turned-coach for my son, I understand the importance of lining up properly. When the guard sets his stance out of alignment with the center it can have a ripple effect. If he is out of alignment then the tackle who sets his feet based upon the guard is out of whack and potentially so is the tight end. Doing so can leave that whole side of the line vulnerable to a strong defensive rush.
My coach wanted me to set my feet correctly to put myself at a better position not only for me, but for our whole offense. It was selfish of me to not be lined up correctly. I was being stupid for hating his correction.
What areas of your life can you begin working to love discipline? I don’t mean the kind that puts you in the timeout corner (hopefully), I mean the kind that provides real time feedback for you to harness for personal growth. For me it can be feeling the Holy Spirit convicting me for making a poor decision — then correcting it through prayer and repentance. It can be the wake up call of stepping on the scale and seeing the wrong couple of digits show up —then correcting myself with a better game plan and follow-through for my diet. It can be realizing what I said to my wife was insensitive — then correcting it by buying her flowers and sincerely apologizing.
You are likely to face some sort of correction today, what will you choose to do? If you embrace discipline and choose to faithfully follow God then you might just end up in your own land of milk and honey like Caleb and Joshua. And if you love discipline and correction, you may just wander a whole lot less to get there as well.