Discipline for Godliness {Book Club Thursdays}


We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
For your convenience, all the posts in the series will be archived here. Or, to make life even easier, subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email. 

You will also receive a link to our private FB group where we can chat through some of the concepts in this book and a free PDF downloadable Study Sheet

I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.


Chapter 1: Discipline for Godliness

When we hear Disciplines of a Godly Woman, we might think we’re walking into a to-do list that will help us live godly lives. We might think of a set of rules set in stone that will make sense of it all for us, appeasing our conscience, if you will.

I fear this false sense of holiness based on ‘keeping the rules’ hinders our growth. We easily look to the side and measure people according to our standard of keeping the rules. The other side of the spectrum is true as well, we look at others and we measure ourselves according to what and where we perceive them to be.

Since our house fire in 2010, God has been teaching me the secret to living this beautiful journey of faith. I don’t have it all figured out. I continue to learn. He continues to mold me. He continues to shape my walk as my faith is tested and strengthened. But it all points back to lesson number one: In Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). And so, we’d do well to heed Jesus’ words to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind (Matthew 22:37).

Where Do We Begin?

Hence, we begin our journey with Discipline for Godliness. Our path forward cannot proceed until we come face-to-face with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’ll go into that a bit more in next week’s chapter. For now, suffice it to say that we are sinners separated from a holy God. Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection breached that gap by paying the price for our redemption. Our sins are washed away. Hallelujah! When we confess our sins and accept him as Lord and Savior, we are sealed by the indwelling Spirit who is our guarantee that He will return for us that we might live life eternally with Him.

Now THAT is exciting news!

It’s the reason we’re here opening these pages to begin with. Not because the rules demand it, but because our love for Him compels us to. We choose to learn what the disciplined life looks like because Scripture is not silent on this issue. So what do we do with that?

Well, if we know that “all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness that the man of God may be fully equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then we stop and look in a bit longer. Through it God grows and matures us. We lean in. We listen. We study. We scrutinize the words in an effort to gain understanding.

Why Discipline?

Do We Have To? 

“In today’s world and in today’s church, disciplined Christian lives are the exception, not the rule. Some people might like to find an excuse by saying, “Oh, but that’s always been true.” Actually it hasn’t. Many periods of church history have been characterized by the amazing discipline of believers,” (pg. 14).

In his letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts him, “train yourself to be godly”. It doesn’t come naturally to us. It requires effort. Train is defined as “teaching a person a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time”. Did you catch that? Training requires practice, repetition, doing the same thing over and over. It also requires instruction.

Like an athlete’s first time working out, you might be excited and pleased with yourself regarding some new exercise you’ve tried. Yet the trainer will look for bad formation. They will continue giving you the instruction necessary until you’re able to do the new exercise in such a way which maximizes its effect while minimizing accidents and damage. You’d be wise to lean in, pay attention, and heed the direction. Over a period of time, you’ll improve your form. You’ll gain muscle and strength. You’ll grow.

What’s Your Motivation?

The Difference Lies in Motivation

“True discipline is a far cry from legalism–thank God! The difference lies in motivation: Legalism is self-centered; discipline is God-centered. The legalistic heart says, “I will do this thing to gain merit with God.” The disciplined heart says, “I will do this because I love God and want to please Him.” The true heart of discipline is relationship–a relationship with God,” (pg. 14).

Training ourselves to godliness is a continued exercise in submitting our will to the will of God. In obedience and submission to His word, we surrender what we think life should look like. We trade in our wants and desires for God’s will. I’m not talking about losing our God-given and unique personalities. I’m talking about a continuous dying to self that God would live.

That sounds a tad morbid, eh? I know. I get it. None of us wants to die to our dreams, ambitions, desires, and wants. We like where we are. We like what we’ve created with our own hands. And yet, therein lies the problem. We think we know best what most fulfills us. We forget the words we read earlier: it’s in Him that we live. It’s in Him that we move. It’s in Him that we have our being.

The disciplined life, then, teaches us how to stop living, moving, and being in “us”. It forces our affections to their proper place. Jesus. We go from knowing about Him to being in relationship with Him. Godliness apart from Him is impossible.

We are responsible to discipline our bodies and bring them into subjection (1 Corinthians. 9:27). We stop allowing our flesh to do the bidding. Rather we are Spirit-led (Romans 8:14).

There’s so much to talk about here. But space just doesn’t do this chapter justice. My friend. Find some quiet space. Walk through some of the verses and questions below. Allow God to show you where you’ve slacked in your discipline for godliness.  Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about Discipline of the Gospel.

Did I mention how glad I am you’re here?

{Thoughts to Ponder}

1 Timothy 4: 7-8, “…exercise yourself toward godliness.”

1 Corinthians 9:25-27,  “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

Q1: What usually prevents you from exercising spiritual discipline?

Q2: Is there a cost to spiritual discipline?

Q3: Are you prepared to pay the price?


**Discussion Questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest


  1. Wanda Opitz says:

    Hi Darlene!

    Great post, and I am so excited to join you in this book study!

    Q1: Honestly, my own flesh and my focus on my past circumstances have kept me from practicing spiritual disciplines. In my hurt, I have lived with less and less trust in God, which has caused me to not put in the effort for growth spiritually. Expectations, too, have led to me laying down a lot of my former love, since I believed the lie that if I do what God wants, He will give me favor in the way that I expect. “Let’s face it: Many of us think of spiritual discipline in therms of ‘living the letter of the law’…Such legalism seems to us a path to frustration and spiritual death.” p14 and “The legalistic heart says, ‘I will do this thing to gain merit with God.’ ”

    Q2: Any discipline, including spiritual discipline, comes at a cost. Instead of sleeping in, we choose to wake and have time with God. Instead of asserting our “rights,” we choose to love and sacrifice for another. Instead of allowing our emotions to take over or focus, we chose to go to the Lord in prayer before we speak or make decisions rashly. We remember the cost He paid to love us, and remember we are living sacrifices.

    Q3: Honestly, I miss the sweet, close relationship I had with the Lord. I need to lay down the legalistic view of spiritual disciplines and return to my first love (Rev 2:4-5). I am praying to be prepared, and I believe He is doing it.

    • Wanda, I’m so glad you responded. Thank you for sharing so openly. I’d added your responses to our private FB group so that we can keep the discussion going there 🙂 So glad to have you.

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