Starting Your Rule of Life
By Casey McDonald
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?
Since hearing the teaching, what have you noticed about the pace of your own life?
How does the idea of “unhurrying” strike you? Exciting? Unrealistic? Overwhelming?
Read this overview
Dallas Willard once called hurry “the great enemy of spiritual life in our day,” and said followers of Jesus (who was rarely, if ever, in a hurry) must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry.” While this assertion may seem bold or surprise you, consider the last time you tried to settle your mind and heart before God, and were interrupted by a notification on your phone. Or the last time you tried to Sabbath, and were stopped in your tracks at the impossibility of the idea of not working for one day.
Our Practice over the next several weeks is to work together at slowing down, in order to make space to experience God and relationship with ourselves and others. To get at this goal of slowing down, or unhurrying, we will each create our own “rule of life.” A rule of life is a schedule and set of practices and relational rhythms that help us create space in our busy world for us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what he did—to live “to the full” (John 10v10) in his kingdom, and in alignment with our deepest passions and priorities.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll spend time together exploring different aspects of a rule of life. So, don’t feel like you need to complete a rule of life this week. In fact, it would be wise to consider and reconsider your rule of life often over the next several months. The intention is that you can take your time considering what Practices you’re already engaged in, what is life-giving for you, and what would help move you closer to a life of peace and joy.
Rule of Life Workbook
In the Rule of Life Workbook, you will develop a personal rule of life to follow the pace and practices of Jesus. It’s been said that we achieve inner peace when our schedule is aligned with our values. A rule of life is simply a tool to that end. Rather than a rigid, legalistic to-do list, it’s a life-giving structure for freedom, growth, and joy.
Do this Practice as a Community right now (15–20 minutes)
Note: There’s no “right” way to make a rule of life, and no one-size-fits-all approach. For that reason, we’ve put together a workbook meant simply as a template for you to start from. If it’s helpful, you can print the workbook out and write directly in the empty spaces. Or you may prefer to simply use the workbook as a digital reference and write in a journal for more flexibility. Whatever would be most useful for you.
Open the workbook, and skim through the seven suggested categories for rule of life: Abiding, Mind, Body, Relationships, Rest, Work/Money, and Gospel/Hospitality.
Individually or in pairs, take five or ten minutes and (in a journal or note on your phone) order these seven categories from easiest/most fun for you to most challenging for you.
In triads, talk through the following:
Based on your personality and preferences, which categories do you find easiest? How about most challenging?
Based on your life circumstances (such as, single with no roommates, new parent, working in a demanding job), 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 explore our seven suggested categories for a rule of life, and consider what your current rule or way of life—official or unofficial—looks like, and how those patterns are impacting you.
All of us are engaged in rhythms of relationship and practices of daily life that are shaping us in one way or another—whether that’s into a person of love, peace, and joy, or a person marked by stress, busyness, and anxiety. In the coming week, our Practice is simply to assess what your current (official or unofficial) rule of life looks life, and consider what rhythms and Practices you are currently engaged in.
This week, take time to do the following:
Open the workbook, read through the section titled The Seven Core Practices of The Way, and consider the included question: Which of these are currently part of your life? What are 1–2 Practices that you want to work into your daily or weekly routine?
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 where you are and how that’s impacting you, not to set new sky-high goals.
Work through these discussion questions before you call it a night (5–10 minutes)
How does the process of crafting a rule of life seem to you as it’s laid out in the workbook? Freeing, or constricting? Perhaps something else altogether?
As you consider the different aspects of your rule of life (Rest, Abiding, Body, etc.), is there one that sticks out that you’d like to press into or grow in in the next season of your life?
Any creative ideas or suggestions about this Practice?