The term “Rule of Life” doesn’t sound all that appealing to our 21st-century ears. A Rule of Life was okay for Augustine and Benedict. It even makes sense today for those who choose to live lives set apart in religious communities. But what about the rest of us, who are busy living lives and living into ministries in the messiness of the world?
We have as much to benefit as the monks who came before us.
The fact of the matter is, you already have a Rule of Life. There are certain values, principles, and practices by which you live every day. Crafting a formal Rule of Life is about making those practices and values explicit, and pursuing them intentionally. And the fast-approaching New Year is a great time to get started. But where do you start?
If your Rule of Life is all aspirational, it’s going to fall flat, just like truly every New Year’s resolution I have ever made. First, you have to know what you are already doing, and (if you can figure it out) why you do it.
Find a Structure
You might realize a good structure for you as part of the first step, or you might find having a structure helpful in your observations.
One way to consider your Rule is to think about wellness in particular areas of your life, for example:
- Physical Wellness (sleep, exercise, diet)
- Relational Wellness (friends, family, intimate relationships)
- Emotional Wellness (mood and feelings, gratitude)
- Spiritual Wellness (prayer, worship)
What practices in each of these areas are important to you? How frequently do you practice them?
Another way might be to think about what makes you feel most alive and closest to God (and do more of those things), and what makes you feel least alive and farthest from God (and avoid those things). Perhaps your Rule will be visual rather than textual. Perhaps it will be a series of bullet points, or an Excel spreadsheet.
As a general rule, it is better to be specific than general, because specifics are easy (or at least possible) to measure.
If this is all overwhelming, perhaps consider starting with something simpler, like a Post-It note with a daily reminder to engage in one act of kindness or generosity each day, or beginning a gratitude journal. This is your Rule; you don’t need to follow other people’s rules.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming Friday!
Do you have a Rule of Life, or have you at any point? What was it like? How did you make it work for you?