The Issue of Restraint & Discipline
Faulty mindset: No Restraint --- Freedom --- Fake Maturity (The Root is Pride)
Healthy mindset: Restraint --- Submission --- Discipline --- Inner Strength --- Growth --- Authentic Maturity (The Result of Humility)
I joined 20th Company Boys' Brigade (at Bethesda Frankel Estate Church) when I was in Secondary 2. These were 3 formative years in my maturity towards being a leader. In contrast to the impression that most people have about a person belonging to a uniformed group being disciplined, I was the exact opposite. I led an unrestrained life even after joining the BB. What attracted me to join were the unrepressed activities, described to me by my friend after the usual BB parades. The first two years after joining the BB, the yet-to-be-reformed Hee Guan participated in all activities which included stealing sessions, car-racing (without driving licenses), fooling around in cemeteries, disturbing couples at Mt Faber and fishing within restricted areas.
All these activities attracted me because I was someone who detested discipline. I felt that by doing the things I liked, I would be like an adult, mature and with the ability to make decisions. In contrast to having confidence and control over mind, which epitomizes adulthood, those actions were childish and irresponsible. The one thing that hindered the acceptance of discipline into my life was my own pride. To me, having to submit to authority and acting upon commands given by others was a disgrace. Therefore I chose an unrestrained life to reflect the apparent control I had over my lifestyle.
Yet the correct attitude one should have towards discipline should be an embracing one. Indeed, Proverbs 17:27 states that “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” The one who shows restraint is the one that displays wisdom. And God will bless those who are faithful and disciplined in keeping the law of God. This point is illustrated in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law”. Humility and the willingness to be disciplined are virtues and a display of inner strength; they will help us strengthen our steps towards maturity.
Furthermore, God disciplines those whom He loves dearly. As written in Hebrews 12:10, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness”. A lot of times, we may be asked to do things that we do not like but all these train up our discipline. As a BB boy, I was always asked to run errands and wash toilets - those seemingly mundane things I was asked to do toughened me up to be able and ready to serve when needs arise.
My learning process of doing things I do not like, but which I know are beneficial to me, is greatly influenced by the immediate culture. The healthy culture in my BB company was such that everyone wanted to be a leader. When I first joined the BB, I was standing on the extreme left of my squad, as the most junior member. From Day 1, I told myself that I would become the squad leader, to stand on the extreme right one day. The squad leader is the person whom squad members take instructions from and look to for alignment and leadership. I termed this as the ‘Right Marker Principle’. The ‘Right Marker Principle’ is a natural culture that shapes people’s minds in wanting to be a leader. I learnt that a culture of desiring to be a leader was a much better ‘teacher’ than others telling us why we should aspire to be leaders. The motivation of wanting to be a leader caused me to be disciplined in completing every task.
The twin pillars of the Boys' Brigade is that of religion (i.e. God) and discipline. We should therefore view discipline as a privilege because it trains our ability to take pain. The discipline in our daily lives brings about growth. My own journey of growth was one that was transformed from having an unrestrained lifestyle to learning to do things I did not like (at first). My BB brothers used to run loose on the street to create havoc but through the discipline of the BB, we are now running our own companies and departments to create values to organisations and societies.