Scouts. What does self-discipline mean to you? Is it a good thing to have? Is it a good trait to develop in yourself? Why.

Tonight, I would like to give you a reason why I think self-discipline is worth some attention from each scout in the room.

I work at a psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. I was talking to a young man today who had just lost control of his temper over something really insignificant. He lost his temper and began throwing chairs and personal items at the staff members who were called to assist in calming him down. It became evident that they were going to have to physically control him because of the potential danger he was posing for the staff and for the other children around him.

After he calmed down, he shared with me his thoughts about “authority figures”. He said “I don’t like people telling me what to do. I don’t like people getting in my face and giving me orders and stuff.”

Scouts, this is an important lesson. Listen closely. If you have self-discipline, nobody will ever have to discipline you. If you follow the rules, if you have consideration for others, if you treat others as you would like to be treated yourself, if you conduct yourself in a way that is approved in the society in which you live, nobody will ever have to get in your face and tell you what to do.

If, on the other hand, you disregard rules, treat others with disrespect, ignore societies standards of acceptable behavior, discipline will come your way. Teachers, employers, coaches, policemen, judges, prison guards, you name it, will get in your face and let you know that you have stepped over the line. The discipline you receive will increase in direct proportion to your inability to discipline yourself.

If you have a temper, work on it. Develop self-discipline to keep that temper in check. Your family and friends won’t be able to count on you if you let your temper get out of control. They will never know how you will react to things so they won’t be able to trust you. For those of you with a temper, just know that you are not alone. I have one too. Its something I have to work on every day. Don’t let your temper control your life. If you allow it, your temper will make your life difficult. It will lose you friends and it will diminish the confidence and respect people will have for you. I’ve been there. I know what I’m talking about.

You all know right from wrong. You all know the Golden rule. You all know the Ten Commandments. You are all familiar with the rules and laws of our city, our state, and our country. Since you know all those things, the only thing left is for you to make a commitment to abide by those concepts and live your life in a way that will inspire your family and your neighbors, your employers and your employees, your teachers and your scout leaders.

And it all starts with self-discipline.

© Bill Shaffer 2004