In this episode:
I have been thinking about writing a Rule of Life in place of annual goal setting (or as a companion to it), and I was first introduced to it in a book by Peter Scazzero. He explains that a Rule of Life is like a trellis on which we train a vine to grow. Having a framework in place helps us to direct how we grow and ultimately helps us flourish.
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Inspired Life: What is a Rule of Life?
I don’t love rules. And yet I can’t help but follow them. So when I heard of a Rule of Life when I was reading a book, I was a bit skeptical of this thing that sounded legalistic. But it isn’t. In this podcast episode, I took a closer look at what it is.
A Rule of Life is an alternative to setting goals (or a companion to it). It stems from a tradition of religious orders who had guidelines for how they lived in community—think monks. We can use their example and write our own code of conduct that guides our decisions.
Daniel had his own code of conduct—Rule of Life—in the Bible, he just didn’t call it that. See Daniel 1 and Daniel 6 for how his practices of prayer and time with God as well as a specific way of eating were included in his non-negotiables, even when his life depended on it. Seriously, he was willing to be thrown in a den of lions rather than break his code.
I have been thinking about writing a Rule of Life in place of annual goal setting, and I was first introduced to it in a book by Peter Scazzero, called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature (affiliate link). He explains that a Rule of Life is like a trellis on which we train a vine to grow. Having a framework in place helps us to direct how we grow and ultimately helps us flourish.
We’re all different in how we will live, but Scazzero says this in his book:
Our goal is the same: union with God in Christ, transformation into his image, and the freeing of our hearts from anything that stands in the way of Christ living in and through us. How we get there will vary, depending on our personality, gift mix, temperament, geographic location, and particular calling from God. In addition, God will have different practices and emphases at different seasons and phases of our lives. (p 193)
A Rule of Life is “an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do. . . . The starting point and foundation of any Rule is a desire to be with God and to love him” (Scazzero, 196).
This is freeing in that it carries from year to year and provides a framework for any goal we set or any commitment we consider making for our time, energy, money, etc. We can filer all of our decisions through our “Rule.”
So, I did some additional research to find more resources that would help me write my own. Then I saw it come up in a post from the Gospel Coalition, so it was on my mind again. See the article
Peter Scazzero includes these areas when creating a Rule of Life. These are some examples he gives in a worksheet about writing a rule (link below):
- Scripture - meditating on Scripture each day, a reading plan, praying the Psalms, etc.
- Silence and Solitude – this includes daily silence as well as a possible silent retreat.
- Daily Prayer – the plan might include prayers planned at times throughout the day.
- Study – you may want to take a Bible course, read Christian books, or use a Bible study resource for daily study.
- Sabbath –setting apart a 24-hour Sabbath time.
- Simplicity – this could include uncluttering, clearing time, changing finances, etc.
- Play and Recreation – this includes finding activities that breathe life in you.
- Service and Mission – this includes using your time, or talents to serve others.
- Care for the Physical Body – this includes sleep, exercise, and diet.
- Emotional Health – journaling, counseling, group connections are all included here
- Family – this includes growth to be a better spouse, parent, child, sibling.
- Community – related to companions for the journey, a small group, a mentor, church, etc.
These are just a guide. You might want to add other areas to your Rule. It’s up to you. The goal for a rule is in aligning ourselves with Christ – Loving God and loving people.
These tips and categoris are from a document from Pete Scazzero. See the full document. I have paraphrased the concepts.
Also see www.emotionallyhealthy.org
Life, Repurposed: How to create a Rule of Life
Our Rule of Life should be developed around the command to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, with all our mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is from Matthew 22:37–39 and Mark 12:30-31 (among several of the places it appears in the Bible).
Scazzero says developing our own Rule of Life begins with an inventory of the things that we would like to do to further nurture our spiritual lives. The Rule helps us to integrate both our spiritual lives and everyday life. The relationship with God is part of every moment of the day. As we learn to love him and love people, we grow in our character.
Scazzero says a lot of us are not intentional about spiritual growth. We have an unconscious rule, but it isn’t planned. We go t church, might pray sometimes, read the Bible and join a Bible study group, but we aren’t necessarily prepared for when what he calls and “earthquake event” hits us.
As you begin to write out your Rule of Life, Scazzero encourages people to spend a day retreat away to work on it so that you can include time of prayer. If you can’t do a day, spend an afternoon in a quiet place.
Everyone does their Rule differently! Some people add a Scripture passage for each item on their Rule, but that’s up to you. Some people add their own categories; others might simplify and have fewer. I've learned that the only way to make something work for me is to make it my own.
Here are some simple steps for how to create a Rule of Life from Peter Scazzero (and you can personalitze it):
STEP 1 Write down everything you currently do that nurtures your spirit. This is a big list and a free flow of thoughts without intentional organizing. This includes prayer, worship, and Bible reading, but it also includes other things that bring you delight and joy. These could include: outdoor recreation, silence and reflection, Sabbath, days alone with God, time with people you enjoy, journaling, caring for the environment, time with people, activities you love, personal values.
STEP 2 Organize list by placing everything into the four areas – prayer, rest, work/activity, relationships.
STEP 3 Think about what other activities you are not currently doing but want to do. This includes experiences that fill you with joy, life, energy and peace. Also consider if there are any activities you want to stop doing because they drain you and disconnect you from God.
STEP 4 Examine your Rule of Life. This is a good place to pray more too. Look for changes you’d like to make to create a life that enables you to remain in on-going communion with God.
Some tips for this thinking process:
- Listen to your heart’s desires because God speaks through them.
- Make sure you include some joy, play and fun.
- Take small steps. Don’t make your plan impossible to follow.
- Leave room for the unexpected (both things you can help and can’t help). Be ok with not doing it perfectly and try again when needed.
- Consider your personality and how much structure you will need.
The whole goal of this Rule is to receive God’s love and offer it to people around you. Everything centers around that.
If you decide to create a Rule of Life, let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear about how others personalize their own Rule.
If you think a Rule of Life might be just the thing you've been looking for, here are some resources to get you started.
The book by Peter Scazzero, called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It's Impossible to Be Spiritually Mature, While Remaining Emotionally Immature (affiliate link) is a great resource.
Also, check out some of these articles on the web:
Article: Instructions for developing A Personal Rule of Life
Article: Skip Resolutions—Make a Rule of Life
Article: Creating an Individual Rule of Life
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Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.
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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links.