Instead of a New Year’s Resolution I have decided to share my Rule of Life with you. Recall, a “Rule of Life” is simply “intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us.” I’ve been working on this for a while so here it is!
Prologue: General Vision
The gospel is the good news that God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Col 1:13). As the kingdom of priests and saints (Rev 1:6), God has called his people to bear witness to this good news of redemption. One way that believers bear witness to this redemption is by carrying out the good works which God has prepared in advance for them to do (Eph 2:10). As such, each individual believer, if she or he is to bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, ought to discern the best way to live out this call. One way ensure that this call is actually lived out is prioritize spiritual formation. A Rule of Life can facilitate the formation necessary for doing the good works prepared for us in advance. A rule of life, Ruth Haley Barton, explains seeks to respond to the questions: “Who do I want to be? How do I want to live?” When these two questions are brought together, a Rule of Life addresses the question: “How do I want to live so I can be who I want to be?” Barton’s question is instructive, yet, I believe it ought to be adjusted to be more theologically precise. Our vocation is not something that we come up with or find. Our vocation is something that God has for us and he reveals. Thus, my own Rule of Life seeks to address the question: “In this season, how should I live so I can be who God wants me to be?”
Prologue: Particular Vision
In this current season I sense a call to dive deeper into my role as an “equipper.” My vocation is shaped by Matthew 13:52, “He said to them, ‘therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the Kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” I am called to be a person who draws upon the Christian tradition and employs it for the purpose of equipping Christians to live out the gospel in a faithful manner in their contemporary context. Phrasing in slightly different way, I am called to equip the church for the sake of gospel faithfulness by turning its attention to the church’s rich tradition. In order to cultivate this calling, and in order to become the kind of person who can fulfill this calling, I have discerned the following practices as being especially helpful.
- Start the day with God, as opposed to starting it with technology.
- Read the Bible to my daughters, Shiloh and Abigail, every night and intentionally talk through a spiritual resource with my wife, Amelia.
- Attend weekly worship and a LifeGroup at The Church at Rocky Peak.
- Go on a weekly hike/walk with God.
- Partake in physical training five times per week.
- Post a blog on a topic that is either theological, biblical, or discipleship oriented at least once per week.
- Journal, once per week or more, examining where God has been throughout the course of your week.
- Consistently go through some tool or book which helps cultivate a rhythm of spiritual formation.
- Work through a classic theological/pastoral/spiritual text in all seasons.
- Take part in academic reading and/or writing groups.
- Serve at Rocky Peak; accept every teaching/preaching opportunity I am presented with unless my spiritual advisors deem it unwise.
Triannually and Yearly
- Take a six to eight hour retreat of solitude with God three times a year.
- Take an overnight retreat to be in solitude with God at least once per year.
- Do not check your phone for email or social media in the morning until I leave the house.
- Prioritize sleep. On regular nights aim to get seven hours of sleep, because a lack of sleep adversely affects my spiritual attentiveness.
- Pack a complete lunch five days a week, unless I plan on meeting with someone for lunch. Spending money to eat alone is a waste of financial resources that could be stewarded more wisely.
- Aim to eat lunch with someone else—besides family—at least two days per week. This cultivates genuine relationships and pushes me against my introvertedness.
- Minimize caffeine intake. Enough sleep and working out should make it so that I do not need to rely on caffeine to be alert for my daily tasks.
Inner Matters: Habits and Characteristics
- Develop a habit of prayer.
- Develop the ability to “be still.”
- Prioritize discipleship of myself and of others.
- “Equip” his family first.
- Be involved in the life of his church.
- Drink deeply from the wisdom of others.
- Allow authority figures to speak into my life.
- Develop professional skills as an academic.
- Do things that bring me joy or recharge me that are unrelated to my roles as an academic/teacher.
 Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Formation (Downers Grove: IVP, 2006), 147.
 Barton, Sacred Rhythms, 147.
 A Rule of Life ought to take into account the particular season the “rule follower” finds themselves in. Thus, before making a rule it is beneficial to “take stock of your desires, natural rhythms, limits and times of closest connection to God.” Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us (Downers Grove: IVP, 2015), 38. Additionally, one ought to take into account one’s temperament. Stephen Macchia, Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way (Downers Grove: IVP, 2012), 33.