In 2016, I was beatdown, overwhelmed, overworked, and ready to quit.
I was five years into pastoral ministry in the church I planted. My inability to say no stretched me beyond my boundaries. Also, my limits dwindled as personal grief over the death of my wife's brother compounded with sadness over difficult church situations.
I loved my job, but I wasn't sure I could shoulder the weight. Buckling knees and straining muscles told me something needed to change.
That's when I discovered the first step toward spiritual and emotional stability — a rule of life.
What is a rule of life?
"The term Rule of Life has its linguistic roots in an ancient Greek word that means 'trellis'… it is a support structure that helps us to grow up and abide in Christ. This, in turn, enables our lives to thrive spiritually and our leadership to be abundantly fruitful."- Pete Scazzero (The Emotionally Healthy Leader, pg.135)
A rule of life helps us wrestle with the chaos of demands, determine what's important, and live a life of flourishing.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:5
How to create a rule of life?
First, write these four categories on a piece of paper.
Communion - This encompasses anything that allows you to connect relationally with Jesus. Typically, spiritual practices associated with Scripture and prayer.
Rest - Enjoyment best sums up this category. What helps you enjoy God and His good gifts? Sabbath is essential here.
Community - Your commitment to friends, family, and church.
Work - Your paid-work goals, non-paid work goals, and service at church go here.
Second, consider the rhythms of various practices.
Third, choose essential practices for this season.
What do I need right now to experience Jesus?
What activities put a smile on my face and energize me?
What does love for neighbor look like right now?
Fourth, keep it simple; be intentional.
Start small, pray, and prioritize. Pick rhythms of life that will counterbalance your unhealthy propensities.
For example, my back chronically aches from scoliosis. If I do specific stretches, I feel good. Neglect them; I hurt. A rule of life is similar. Do what helps you become spiritually and emotionally healthy.
Here's a rule of life that will not help you in your journey toward stability:
This rule is too cluttered and only creates stress. Remember, simple and intentional. Always ask — what will benefit me most in this season?
A rule of life is a trellis to help you do the essential work of abiding in Jesus so that you flourish in life.
How has a rule of life improved your life?
After all that wrestling, you may feel tired. Good news! The next step toward spiritual and emotional stability is to stop to rest.
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