Beginning Your Rule of Life
By Josh Porter
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief the teaching in triads (5 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- What, if anything, resonated with you from the teaching? What challenged or surprised you?
- What kind of habits and routines make up the everyday rhythm of your life, for better or for worse?
Read this overview
All of us live by a collection of rhythms and routines—conscious or unconscious, deliberate or haphazard. Jesus also lived according to a rhythm and implemented routines. When we emulate the lifestyle of Jesus, we experience intimacy with God, grow in our apprenticeship, and find the kind of freedom Jesus promised.
But that’s hard to do.
Our lives, by default, are mostly unaccommodating to the things of Jesus. It’s either to be either lazy or over busy than it is to balance vocation and rest. It’s easy to zone out with a smartphone or a streaming service than it is wake up early and pray.
Much as we want the things of Jesus, and even when we believe in the transforming power of the spiritual disciplines, the lifestyle of Jesus won’t just happen in the frenetic pace of our lives.
That is why the early church developed the Rule of Life.
A rule of life is a scheduled set of practices and relational rhythms that enable us to work within our unique seasons of life and stages of apprenticeship to practice the way of Jesus well.
Do this Practice as a Community right now (15–20 minutes)
A rule of life is written in pencil, not ink, as it will evolve and adapt with your life and apprenticeship. Consequently, there’s no one way to make a rule of life, but we suggest using the following categories:
Abiding, Mind, Body, Relationships/Sexuality, Work/Rest, Money, and Gospel/Hospitality.
Abiding (Morning prayer, Scripture reading, worship music, sabbath, fasting, silence and solitude, retreat, etc.)
Mind (Reading Scripture in the morning, spiritual reading and study, church on Sunday, gratitude, a daily limit on device use, etc.)
Body (Sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet, water, annual doctor’s visit, and honoring God with your sexuality by living by Jesus’ teachings.
Relationships (Weekly phone call or coffee with best friend, weekly meal with community, church on Sunday. For married couples—weekly date night, cultivating healthy sexual connection. For families—sitting down to dinner five nights a week, vacation, etc.)
Work/Rest (Focused times of work each week, dedicated time to an entrepreneurial project, sleeping eight hours most nights, a weekly sabbath, a “nothing night” once a week, etc.)
Money (tithing, making a budget, generosity, simplicity, a blessing fund, sponsoring a child, etc.)
Gospel/Hospitality (Inviting a friend to church, a regular night to host neighbors for dinner, spending time listening to co-workers, serving the poor through volunteering, etc.)
Individually or together as a group, take five or ten minutes and (in a journal or note on your phone) order these categories from easiest/most fun for you to most challenging for you.
Talk through the following discussion questions:
- Based on your personality and preferences, which categories do you find easiest? Which seem most challenging?
- Based on your life circumstances (single or married, living alone or with roommates, family, career, etc.), which categories fit most easily into your routine? Which might take more creative planning?
Discuss the coming week’s Practice (5 minutes)
The Practice for this week is to think through our seven suggested categories for a rule of life, and consider your current way of life—official or unofficial—and how its patterns are impacting you.
We all live into certain rhythms and routines, and those rhythms and routines shape us over time. There are habits and modes of life that transform us more into someone like Jesus, while others make us stressed out, anxious, angry, and worse.
Before we draft what will become a rule of life, we want to begin by simply assessing our current rhythms and routines—good, bad, or neutral—to get a clearer picture of what’s valuable and worth refining, and what’s destructive and worth abandoning.
This week, take time to do the following:
Read through each suggested category of a rule of life (Abiding, Mind, Body, Rest, etc.), and consider or journal through what Practices make up your current rule of life in each area. (For example, your current rule for rest may include sleeping six hours each night and taking a night off from activities each week.) The goal is to assess your current rule and how it’s impacting you, not to cement new goals.
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)
- Here at the beginning, what is your early impression of developing a rule of life?
- As you consider the different aspects of your rule of life (Rest, Abiding, Body, etc.), are there any categories that strike you as uniquely pressing for your season of life and stage of apprenticeship?