Bible Verse: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

Every thoughtful person has a pattern of practices or habits, a rhythm he or she lives by – even if they have never put their “rule” into words. A rule of life can be a gift for ordinary people in their everyday lives: working mothers, stay-at-home dads, dentists, plumbers, accountants, realtors, students, artists. In fact, the more immersed we are in the world with all the pressures that pull us away from God, the more helpful a rule of life will actually be. So, let’s take a closer look: what does it look like to build a rule?

  1. Start simply. One of the most common mistakes people make when getting started is doing too much too quickly. Change doesn’t happen overnight! Small habits can make a big difference.
  2. Build slowly. A sustainable rule of life will be built slowly, tested, and regularly revised.
  3. Prune regularly. A rule of life isn’t primarily about adding more things to your life. If a grapevine isn’t pruned it will grow out of hand. This pruning experience can be difficult and at times painful. However, if the pruning is in line with God’s good intention for us, even in the midst of grief, we will experience a deeper sense of peace and well-being.
  4. Be energy conscious. Your rule is unique to you. Some people are more alert in the morning; others can focus better in the evening. As you create your rule, your rhythm of practices, think about the flow of your energy throughout the day.
  5. Consider your life stage. Your rule must also take into account your season of life. When I was a single person, my rule looked different. When I go married, it changed. When I became a parent, my rule took a different shape yet again.
  6. Stay flexible. Saint Benedict’s rule was designed with “a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.” His rule is also famous for its gentleness and flexibility. He insisted that “in drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome.” We need a rule that bends. We don’t exist for the rule. The rule exists for us.
  7. Make time for fun. A rule of life will also include times of fun that bring joy. Ideally our rule will include things that bring renewal and refreshment.
  8. Include community. A rule of life is meant to be lived out in community. Without some kind of community or relationship, we will have no inspiration and support to experience sustained change. If we want to experience ongoing transformation in Christ, it will most likely happen in the spiritual ecosystem of loving, supportive community.

And don’t forget that developing your rule is not a gimmick, a technique, or a shortcut to spiritual growth. It’s a rhythm of spiritual practices that helps center your life on Christ, enabling you to become more receptive to the work of the Spirit.

— Ken Shigematsu in God In My Everything
Copyright © 2013 by Ken Shigematsu

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