Developing a Rule of Life for a Year of Uncertainty

Wednesday, August 12, 2020


At the beginning of each fall, I intentionally set time aside to craft a rule of life for the upcoming school year. You can read more about what a rule of life is and how to create one here.

Having a rule of life has been a complete game-changer for me in my spiritual growth. A few years ago I realized that I was going through my days just expecting spiritual transformation to happen without too much effort on my part. But friends, there are way too many things vying for our attention for growth to occur incidentally. In fact, we're being formed every day by our thoughts, environments, and choices. 

If we're really serious about growing as disciples, we need to have very intentional counter-formational practices in place.

Because of the crazy, unpredictable moment we're in, I knew that I would need a very different rule of life going into this upcoming school year. Not only are we still reeling from COVID, fighting for racial justice, and navigating a divisive election year, but I'm personally starting my first year as an Old Testament professor at a university while also completing my PhD work. Did that last sentence give you as much anxiety as it gave me?

As I reflected on my last rule of life, it became impressed upon me that I really needed to take a different approach this year. I am worried about being stretched beyond my limits and living a life marked by high stress and anxiety.

Instead, my vision this year is to live a life marked by joy and abundance.

During a very probable resurgence of COVID? Yup.

While figuring out how to be my authentic self in a new profession? You bet.

In the midst of balancing surviving my PhD work? God have mercy on my soul.

The truth is, I need to be more gracious and kind to myself this year. I recognize that I only have one limited perspective on the world we're in right now, but I suspect that many people could use some gentleness this upcoming year. 

In the past, I have set very specific parameters for my rule of life, such as limiting social media and setting specific days/times to exercise. But this year I'm going to be more generous and less rigid. Some of my "rule" looks like this:

  • Regularly delighting in God's presence
  • Learning how to speak to myself the way that Jesus speaks to me
  • Listening to my body's cues for movement/rest
  • Simplifying expectations to become a hospitable home
  • Not expecting perfection or performance in my work
Claiming these rules for my life gave me a deep sense of satisfaction. As I reflected on who I've been and who I am now, I realized that

I like the person I am becoming. 

And I think that this is what having a rule of life is actually all about: developing a plan to become the person that God created us to be.

So in the words of Soren Kierkegaard, "with God's help I shall become myself."

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