Superiority Complex

I began reading a book about personal discipline yesterday. It was recommended by our pastor and has been a good read so far. Of interest was the thid chapter, in which the author describes “The Perils of Discipline.” The first peril is that of self-satisfaction.

Discipline unquestionably makes a man superior. If not watched, it will also make him feel superior. There is a legitimate sense of satisfaction in self-mastery. But it is wrong when the sense of satisfaction becomes self-satisfaction. Such a disciplined man gives himself the glory, not God. He admires the character which he himself has fashioned. With this smugness will likely be snobbery. When a man is proud of his discipline, he disdains the common rabble. When the virtue of discipline is thus allowed to feed the vice of pride, the virtue itself becomes a snare. It is a delusion as complete as the self-deception of the Pharisee who congratulated himself in the guise of this prayer: “Father, I thank thee that I am not as other men are …”

Richard S. Taylor, The Disciplined Life, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1962), 40-41.

You can imagine how that kind of attitude could result from a regimented plan for personal discipline. If made the priority of life, it could hinder my relationship with other people. When discipline becomes the goal of my life, other “lesser” goals such as friendship, kindness, and even evangelism can be trampled in the process.

These thoughts came to mind when one of the children insisted on barging into the bathroom to put away his pajamas when another was inside dressing. The goal of putting away pajamas is a good thing, but should be subserviant to another goal of kindness, privacy, and decency, right? Good timing, eh?

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