Creating a Rule of Life, pt 1

I have been pulling together materials for a curriculum, in part, to teach and develop small group leaders in our church.  A piece of that lesson series is about the development of a Rule of Life.  One of the writers who is helping to frame my thoughts on the Rule is Debra K. Farrington.  She’s a writer, educator, and spiritual director.  I’ve also been influenced in understanding the Rule of Life as a practice over the years by writers Adele Calhoun, Richard Foster, Dwight Judy, and Marjorie Thompson.

According to Adele Calhoun, rules help us live toward what we most want.  We live by rules, whether we acknowledge them or not.  In fact, most of the rules we live by are unconscious.  Some might say that our rules are implicit rather than explicit.  When we’re asked a question about an implicit rule–why do you go to church on the weekends, for example–we wake up to the rhythms we’ve kept; we might inspect them, we might change them.

The Rule of Life is simple way of talking about what we most want, who we want to be, and how we will go about pursuing that vision.  It aides us in focusing on all our parts, not just our “spiritual” selves.  Most Rules have some language about work, rest, and play for example.  And the word Rule shouldn’t worry you.  It can be substituted by any of the following: way of life, practice of life, means of life.

I think of a Rule as a container of practices.  It is the statement that contains what practices, over a period of time, we’ll observe in an effort to respond to Love.  A Rule is a statement of things we’ll do, attitudes we’ll cultivate or intentionally be aware of, as we relate to a loving God.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll write a brief post using Farrington’s categorical outline for the components of the Rule of Life.  As part of these posts–or the background of them–I’m revising my own Rule.  I invite you to join me.


  1. Yes, I’ve been rethinking the church attendance thing. After 39 years at the same church, I’m wondering if I should keep doing what I’ve been doing. It used to work, but it doesn’t any more. That makes me so sad.



    1. Dkzody, I missed this comment somehow. I apologize.

      But you’re definitely on to something. Church or religion or spirituality working is a thick thing because it’s hard to know what working means. We have a sense of it, but the idea of it accomplishing something is hard for me.

      I’m thinking more these days that church working means our being increasingly open to Mystery, open to not having our expectations of God met. God is so much bigger than our conceptions, so if the conversation is about religion (what we do), it’s one thing. If it’s about God working (who God is and what God does), well, God may often choose to act outside of those thoughts, expectations, and boxes of ours. I think there’s more of that in world history then less.

      I hope you begin to see your thoughts as prayers, even partial prayers, because God is interested in what you’re considering.



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