Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To be a Disciplined Disciple

I am reminded this morning of the semantic similarity between the concepts of discipline and disciple. To be a disciple/follower of Jesus is to live a disciplined life. Thomas Merton describes this commitment to a disciplined life in the language of the appropriation of the cross of Jesus. To experience the "discipline of the cross" is to move from an ego-affirming spirituality to an ego-transcended approach to life and leadership. The contributions that this make in our search for authentic leadership are obvious.
Merton writes:
“But basically, the discipline involved here is that of a crucifixion which eliminates a superficial and selfish kind of experience and opens to us the freedom of a life that is not dominated by egoism, vanity, willfulness, passion, aggressiveness, jealousy, greed. Finally, discipline means solitude of some sort, not in the sense of selfish withdrawal but in the sense of an emptiness that no longer cherishes the comfort of various social ‘idols” and is not slavishly dependent on the approval of others. In such solitude one learns not to seek love but to give it. One’s great need is now no longer to be loved, understood, accepted, pardoned, but to understand, to love, to pardon and accept others just as they are, in order to help them transcend themselves in love.”

Thomas Merton. “Renewal and Discipline” in Contemplation in A World of Action (New York, Doubleday and Company, Inc.): 131-132.