A Better Rule for Your Life: Developing a Plan to Connect with Your Creator
What is a Rule for Life?
You could use a good rule for your life and faith.
Not the kind of rule that you can keep or break, but the kind of rule that can guide you—like a ruler that governs the path of a straight line on paper. A meaningful rule can catalyze a life full of meaning.
Historically, a rule is an ancient Christian practice of intentionally structuring daily life to cultivate connection with God. It is a schedule, a routine, a collection of habits that directs your heart to the Creator—it makes you more human.
A rule isn’t about a compilation of enforceable rules to check off a list. It’s about intentionally establishing the rhythm of your life, like letting the contours of a map guide your day-to-day experience to a particular destination.
The most famous written rule of life and faith is the Rule of St. Benedict (c. 540 AD). Benedict’s rule established an orderly way of life for monks living together in a monastery, yet it’s more comprehensive than your average school handbook. Benedict addresses things like engaging with Scripture and prayer, handling conflict, the wise consumption of alcohol, a faithful perspective on personal possessions, and a pathway for growing in humility.
The breadth of Benedict’s writing reminds us that a rule is about a rhythm that affects all of life, rather than a legalistic to-do list.
You Already Have a Rule
The “rule” concept isn’t confined to ancient people and their practices. All of us have some kind of rule for our lives, even if we don’t think of it that way. We all live within some unwritten, yet very real maps that contour our use of time, energy, and focus.
Think about it. Some rhythms of your life may be intentional: visiting the gym, calling a relative each day on the way to work, or sitting in the daily drive-thru for professionally-brewed coffee. Other aspects of your unwritten rule for life may be less intentional, yet still formative: checking the news or your Amazon shopping cart first thing in the morning, scrolling through social media during family mealtimes, streaming a show or two (or three) before bed.
You probably already have a rule for your life. Is your rule of life intentional? Does it cultivate meaningful connection with God and others?
Getting the Rule Wrong
There are two possible misconceptions when it comes to having a rule for your life and faith:
Misconception #1: A rule undercuts God’s grace.
For some, the idea of a rule of life and faith can feel rigid and antithetical to the grace-based life of a Christian. That’s fair pushback. But think about God’s grace and how it relates to discipleship:
Discipleship is the ongoing process of following Jesus and letting him shape our lives in more ways together.
When the Bible describes the life of discipleship, it portrays both dependence and discipline. Ephesians 2:10 lays this out:
For we are his [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Paul describes absolute dependence on God as the Creator and Re-Creator of all things. It’s his work––his grace—moving in our lives. Yet there is absolute discipline: we must walk in the good works that God has for us.
Biblically, “walking” is a discipleship metaphor for living all of life. All of life is marked by dependence on God’s grace and discipline because of God’s grace.
A rule helps us embrace both: radical dependence on King Jesus and profound discipline that surfaces in the wake of his grace. It’s dependence and discipline. It’s grit for God’s glory.
God’s grace is where we find our rest, yet it’s also where we’re empowered. A rule isn’t meant to muffle God’s grace—it’s meant to intentionally amplify as it is directed into every part of life.
Misconception #2: A rule is all about the individual person.
While a rule of life is directed at the rhythms of a particular person, it is also directed to a community of faith. This was as true for the ancient adherents to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and it should be true for us as well.
Why does the community matter when it comes to a rule or rhythm of life?
Because the gospel is not about plucking out isolated Jesus-followers for transformation—it is about God’s grace working in and through the community of faith to bring about corporate restoration. In Ephesians, Paul addresses this truth head on when he says that we are “fellow citizens” and “members of the household of God” who are being built together in Christ as a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19, 21).
A rule of life will have implications for your day-to-day transformation in Christ, yet it should also lead to connection with others as the Holy Spirit moves in and through the community of faith.
Craft an Intentional Rule: Connecting with Your Creator
How do you craft a rule of life and faith? It can be as simple as making small adjustments and modifications in your daily routine.
Here are two big questions with some ideas that can help you craft an intentional rule of life—a rule that frees you to connect with your Creator.
Question 1: What am I taking in?
Think about your inputs.
Idea: Choose intentional and daily times to turn off the podcasts/audiobook/playlist and listen to the soundtrack of silence. Maybe on a short walk during the work day. Use this unplugged time to pray for God’s presence to sustain you. Pause the intake of information and create an input where you’re daily reminded that you’re connected to King Jesus.
Idea: Make it a rule of life to have a meaningful conversation with someone before streaming a show or movie. Call a relative. Talk with a friend or your spouse. Input your life with meaningful people before you input it with moving pictures.
Question 2: What are some small, powerful practices that can become part of my daily rhythm?
Think about your habits.
Idea: Begin each day with a short prayer that invites God’s grace with dependence and discipline. My favorite (from a mentor of mine): “What do you have for me today, God?”
Idea: Keep a passage from Scripture near your desk or another visible place at home. Make a habit of referencing it throughout the day, especially when difficulties arise. If you don’t have a passage in mind, consider Ephesians 2:10.
Idea: Carve out the last five minutes of your daily commute home to drive in silence and pray. It’ll change the way you walk through the door.
Whatever your rule may look like, remember to be flexible as you build in new rhythms to the movement of your day. Remember that small changes lead to big change over time. Let the dependence and discipline of a rule of life cultivate meaning and connection with the Creator of life. What will your rule look like?
Looking to build regular rhythms in your life that point you to Jesus? Start by slowing down. Read more about hurry sickness and how this disease might already be infecting you.