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Developing a Rule of Life

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At The Well in June

Developing a Rule of Life

Brian Hutton, from the Hillside Community Methodist Church, was our guest speaker this month and he taught us about ‘unbalanced balancing’.  We had great fun developing a creative Rule of Life, using our magazines, scissors and glue and big pieces of blank paper. Here are the notes that Brian gave us – maybe take some time to create your own Rule of Life before the next meeting at The Well.

“Perhaps somewher in the subrerranean chambers of your life,” writes Richard Foster, “you have heard the call to deeper, fuller, living. You have become weary of frothy experiences and shallow teaching. Every now and then you have caught glimpses, hints of something more than you hve known. Inwardly you long to launch out into the deep.”

What is a Rule of Life?

A rule of life is simply a structure in which spiritual formation is facilitated. The word rule conjures up images of school and dreary regulations, or Old Testament laws but it can also mean straight lines, used for measuring and drawing: used to measure spiritual progress. A rule oflife is able create the space inwhich intentional change and growth can be released.

Many of the men and women God has used powerfully over the last 2000 years in every Christian tradition have lived according to a rule of life:

  • saints from St Francis of Assissi to Mother Teresa;
  • great leaders from John Wesley to William Booth;
  • great preachers from Charles Finney to Billy Graham;
  • mystics from Teresa of Avilla to Thomas Merton;
  • theologians from Augustine to Bonhoeffer.

Origins of the Rule of Life.

The most famous Rule of Life is that of St Benedict of Nursia. Benedict lived in the seventh century,and followed the monastic way of life on two mountains near Rome, Subiaco and Monte Cassino. Communities grew up around him and he devised his rule to regulate the way of life of the monks.

If creeds are WHAT we believe, Christ is WHY we believe, the rule of life is HOW we intentionally seek to live out that faith, day to day as a disciple in the power of the Holy Spirit. The point of a Rule of Life, for communities or individuals, is that life should be lived in balance, with God as the focal point.

  • a rule of life can be a compass in confusing times
  • a rule of life can be the metronome we need to keep us moving in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25)
  • A rule of life can be a plumbline measuring everythign we say, think or do against the example of Jesus.

A rule of life is the discipline we decide to take on for ourselves.

ABCs of establishing/creating a Rule of Life

Authentic – consistent with our convictions, personality, interests and values.

Balanced – develop a balanced sustainable and enjoyable rhythm of life. Daily work and balance between work, rest, prayer and service.

Centered – centre our lives on God who calls us back to the spring of life.

Developing a Rule of Life

This may include:

  • Prayer – how often and long you will pray (flash prayers, prayers at meals etc)
  • Recreation
  • Health and personal fulfilment (keeping fit, sleeping enough)
  • Family relations (preserving marriage vows)
  • Bible – how often and long, how much you will read
  • Worship – how often you will attend, sing communion
  • Work – how are you going to do work for God
  • Community – small groups, service in the wider community, hospitality, (Christian vocation in a specific action)
  • Study – growing intellectually, how much time you spend on study
  • Giving – how much of time, energy gifts and possessions you will give; do I live within my means?

Start with the least you can do. You can always make the Rule harder as you go along.

Some myths about spiritual maturity (Rick Warren)

Spiritual growth is automatic once you give your life to Jesus.

Spiritual growth is only for a select few.

Spiritual maturity can occur if you find the right key, or book/sermon/church.

Spiritual maturity is measured by what you know. (Spiritual maturity is demonstrated more by behaviour than by beliefs.)

All you need id Bible study to grow. (A variety of spiritual experiences help u grow.)


Some steps to take:

  • List all the things you do that nourish/nurture your spirit and soul.
  • Now list what you do in order to afford and do the things above.
  • List things you do that crush your spirit.
  • Put your life into categories for clarity: Spiritual, Recreation, Relationships, Work.
  • What does your balanced/unbalanced life look like?

Each participant at The Well had a couple of old magazines, a pair of scissors and a huge piece of blank paper. We had about 45 minutes in which to work on a creative expression of our own Rule of Life. This proved challenging but everyone enjoyed themselves and we were able to share some beautiful outcomes and surprising insights following the exercise. I am sure that in time to come the Holy Spirit will continue to work in our lives as we think about all that we discovered.

Some comments:

“Looking at all the areas of your life refreshes your memory.”

“You can really count your blessings.”

“I was challenged to get out of my comfort zone – balance, for me, actually means too little of everything.”

“I became aware of different seasons of life and needing to be brought back into synch every now and again.”

“The vastness (of the Karoo) made me think of God, and He is at the centre of it all.”

“Chocolate is very important, and I am not prepared to give that up!”

Brian closed by saying, “Be gentle with yourself. Take small steps, but do something today!”

Another look at the Rule of Life here.


One Response

  1. Very, very well put. One of the best summaries I’ve found. And thanks for referring to my simple Rule.

    Blessings upon you!

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