I enjoy somewhat of a routine. I like knowing when, where, and how things are going to happen. I have a morning routine to wake up and an evening routine to wind down.
But for some reason, rules feel different than routines. Rules feel confining, often resulting in me finding a way around them.
So when Jimbob spoke on cultivating a “rule of life,” in Episode 119 I was immediately cautious. I shouldn’t have worried, though, because this rule is not confining. In fact, developing a rule of life can be liberating if sought out correctly.
The Rule you Won’t Break
John Mark Comer defines a rule of life this way: a rule of life is a set of practices and relational rhythms that help us create space in our busy world to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did—to live “to the full” in his kingdom, and in alignment with our deepest passions and priorities.
Essentially, a rule of life helps us make a difference in the world in a way that is healthy, helpful and life-giving. Cultivating a rule of life isn’t like trying to follow a specific diet or exercise plan. This isn’t a set of laws to follow. Instead, you’re setting a rhythm of life that allows you to be at your best. The word “rule” comes from a Latin word meaning “trellis.” In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples they must abide in Him in order to “bear much fruit,” in the same way a vine abides in a branch. This fruit is the fruit of the spirit and without a trellis assisting us, our fruit may spoil on the ground, unused and unhealthy.
Peak Performance= Determined Disciplines
Developing a “rule of life,” necessitates that we keep our peak performance in mind. Each of us knows what it looks like to operate at our healthiest level. We can most likely look back to a time where we were physically, spiritually, and/or mentally healthier. During this time, we’ve had specific disciplines in our lives that encouraged our health.
When we think of discipline, we need to think of structure. Proverbs 25: 27-28 says, “It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” (ESV, italics mine) A lack of self control, or discipline, leaves us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. We are unguarded against exhaustion, stress, anxiety.
We are often prone to overdo things in our lives. Sometimes that can look like overeating that results in weight gain. But more often in ministry it can look like doing so much for the kingdom of God that we become over committed and overburdened to the point of burnout. When we fail to set up a rule of life that gives us the structure we need, we can end up feeling like Paul in Romans 7 where he laments, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Cultivating a Rhythm
In order to set up a rule of life, you may want to ask yourself a series of questions. These questions should help you determine where you need to structure yourself and your life in order to have an effective and abundant walk with God.
As you begin to develop your “Rule of Life,” perhaps you will see some areas that need to be shifted. These may be duties that need to be delegated out or paused for a time. It could be a habit that isn’t healthy and isn’t leading you closer to your goals. Or it may be the realization that you can’t do it all and you need to create space for rest.
Cultivating this rhythm will take time. It will take discipline to learn to protect that rhythm. You’ll need to learn how to say no to the many requests for your time and energy and reserve them for those that foster your Rule of Life. However, if you stick to the rhythm you create, you will find that you will end the year healthier than you started.
Resources for developing a Rule of Life
Rule of Life: Blake Bennet, City Church, San Marco FL
Your Future Self Will Thank You by Drew Dyck
Developing a Personal Rule of Life– Cross Culture Church