A professional philosopher, Dallas Willard is also an acclaimed writer on Christian discipleship. In 1999,Christianity Today declared his book The Divine Conspiracy “Book of the Year,” and the magazine gave Renovation of the Heart its 2003 award for writing in spirituality.
In this selection from Willard’s 1988 book, The Spirit of the Disciplines, he cautions those who pride themselves on their holy regimens. If these Christians were really that impressive, they would not need to discipline themselves.
People who think that they are spiritually superior because they make a practice of a discipline such as fasting or silence or frugality are entirely missing the point. The need for extensive practice of a given discipline is an indication of our weakness, not our strength. We can even lay it down as a rule of thumb that if it is easy for us to engage in a certain discipline, we probably don’t need to practice it. The disciplines we need to practice are precisely the ones we are not“good at” and hence do not enjoy.1
1 Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 138.