Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CREATING A RULE FOR LIFE

This week, I'm trying to flush out 3 spiritual desires inside me that I felt like I really needed to work on in the next 3 months between my birthday and my wedding anniversary.

The first is called a "RULE FOR LIFE".  Essentially this "rule" is not really just one practice, but rather a set of practices or spiritual rhythms that someone decides are necessary for their own continual spiritual growth.  They must be intentional and purposeful.  Made famous by The Rule of Saint Benedict that was some 73 chapters long... mine will be much shorter than that.

The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook that I'm using for class suggests that a Rule  For Life will "honor your limits and God-given longings. It goes against grandiosity and must be written for who you are, not for who you aren't."  It also says that it can change and adjust as you do, but not like on a whim.  It also should not be a legalistic set of rules, but instead a set of agreements that help you to say yes to what is most important and no to what is not. It is a plumb line, allowing you a central focus point from which you can intentionally evaluate your spiritual journey.

I wrote a set of personal core values about a year ago.  I think a Rule For Life is essentially the flushing out of how I'm going to do the first two.

  1. PLEASE GOD, NOT PEOPLE.
  2. TAKE CARE OF MY SOUL AND MY FAMILY BEFORE MY MINISTRY.
A rule for life is about saying yes to my soul and to God in whose image it was created.  To that end, here are 10 categories of things I know I need to feed my soul. They may be helpful for you as you consider when writing your own rule for life.  So I could memorize them, I used the acrostic of "S.P.I.R.I.T.U.A.L."

SILENCE:  I need silence in my life.  I need regular, daily, spaces of short term and extended solitude and quiet.  When I don't make time to just sit or close my eyes or listen intently to the voice of God, I'm irritable and lose patience and energy fast.  Some people might need a snickers or cup of java.  I've been known to try either. Quite often however, a 20-30 minute set of silence can give me the energy I need to reengage.

PRAY: this means my life must be a constant conversation with God.  It also means my first response needs to be to pray. Then my second can be to act.

IMITATE:  My goal is to imitate Jesus. My priority must be to spend time reading the gospels and examining the life that Jesus lead.  I must constantly evaluate my own life not in light of how I'm comparing to my neighbor, but instead to my Savior.

READ: It is good for my mind and soul. God moves me through reading. I need to read at least 20 minutes a day.

INITIATE: I am profoundly a man of action.  I think that to keep my soul growing, I must keep moving toward God. I find the greatest joy when new things are started, new ideas are seeded, and new progress is made.  In my own life, I need to continually initiate newness to keep my faith vibrant and challenging.

TYPE: for me, typing out my thoughts is a soul shaping activity.  I need to find and make almost daily time to type.

UNDERSTANDING: I have some doubts. I am also a realist who would rather say it like it is than candy coat it to make it sound or taste better. The consequence of this as a child of God is that I need to constantly be asking childlike questions that send me searching for clarity and answers. When I wrestle with my faith, it doesn't get weaker, it gets stronger. I need to fight for understanding.

APPETITE: I must feed the desires that move me to God and starve the ones that distract.  Easier said than done, but it must be said and repeated and practiced for it to become a reality.

LISTEN: I must pay attention to everything around me.  If I want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, I must be a keen observer of how God is moving in and around me.  I need to say no to the myth of multi-tasking, which I believe is not only impossible, but something I sincerely suck at. 

I'm not sure if that's all I need to care for my soul. But it's a good start.  It's a Rule For Life that gives me some key evaluation points in my life.  It's a Rule I want to live by in my Spiritual life.

Now... go write yours... or if you already have, tell me what piece of yours is missing from mine, I'd love to learn from those who have been there and done that for a while.  

1 comments:

Neal C Benson 9:46 PM  

Brian,
This is great man! I read "Emotionally Healthy Spiritually about 5 months ago and have yet to flush out my "rule of life". I have a good plan on my daily office but that been compromised lately and I need to realign on it.
Thanks for sharing this!

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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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