Rule of Life by Jim Baker
Most of us at one time or another desire to see meaningful change in the way we live our lives. I have discovered that implementing an annual “Rule of Life” plan is one of the most effective ways to build intentional change into my life.
What is a Rule of Life? Some also call this a “rhythm of life” or a “Curriculum in Christ likeness” (Dallas Willard), or as a “Game Plan for Morphing” (John Ortberg).
The word “monastic” reminds us to slow down, retreat and be with God. The idea of a Rule of Life is borrowed from the monastic tradition. Steve Macchia in his book, Crafting a Rule of Life, says it is a set of guidelines that support or enable us to do the things we want and need to do in order to become like Christ, to serve him effectively and to live life as God intended.
The word “rule” comes from the Latin word, “regula”, a system, boundaries or railings to guide our lives. A Rule of Life is meant to provide a framework for paying attention and remembering God, for keeping Him at the center of everything we do, to seek “the love of Christ” above all else.
A Rule of Life involves four components, when observed together provide a powerful rhythm of balance, growth and intentional change for our lives.
1) My Disciplines/Practices/Habits
2) My Relationships
3) My Experiences
4) My Responses to Life’s Circumstances
When we pay attention to these four areas and what they currently produce in our lives, we can start to envision another kind of life, a Kingdom Life, and change what we do in these four areas to produce a different way of living.
A Rule of Life as Applied to Professional Golf
Unfortunately, the word “rule” often suggests to us a restricting set of laws that prohibit certain actions. A rule of life functions more like the daily routines that a professional golfer goes through in his on-going training that equip and free him up so he is able to do the things he wants to do in the pressure cooker of professional golf tournaments.
These activities as related to golf are:
- Disciplines/Practices/Habits: practice putting, chipping, driving range practice; practice rounds at tournament courses, exercise
- Relationships: loved ones, trainer, caddy, friends, fellow competitors
- Experiences: competitive golf tournaments, charity golf tournaments, commercial endorsements, non-golfing activities that are restorative
- Responses to Life’s Circumstances: reactions towards life experiences on and off the golf course
When a rule of life is successful it has served as a kind of “scaffolding” to build into us a life that flows from us naturally in the pressure cooker of life due to God’s supernatural restructuring of our body, mind and heart in cooperation with our efforts to partner with him. God takes our intentions to obey him into our body’s habitual actions so obedience is easy and becomes automatic.
When Tom Lehman, golfer and follower of Jesus, heard this transformative process explained as applied to golf and life, he remarked that this process was his experience in golf. His intentions to play well, when put into training practices and a golf rule of life, resulted in an easy and embodied habitual response in the pressure of tournament play. When he played, it just came easily, without even thinking.
A Rule of Life for Your Spiritual Life, Your Professional Life and Your Family Life
A rule of life is not about our golf game, but about our ability to enjoy the whole of life with God and others. And it isn’t just about devotional practices or the spiritual disciplines, often termed the spiritual side of life, but encompasses our family and professional work lives as well.
Keith Meyer, in his thought provoking book, Whole Life Transformation, says “a rule of life for our whole life should help us to come more fully alive to God and others in all aspects of life so that we experience change in our way of life, are trained to live like Jesus and have rule over our lives and rule in Christ’s life!”
What may be surprising to us is that most of us already have a rule of life whether we call it that or not. We have a spiritual rule of life composed of spiritual practices, relationships, experiences and responses to life’s circumstances that have influenced who we are and what kind of spiritual life we enjoy. We also have a family and professional rule of life that has influenced who we are, our career path and the kind of family and work life we have.
These exercises will help you to craft a comprehensive and relevant rule of life that will bring your spiritual, professional and family life into more Christ likeness.