Have you created a spiritual growth plan? We have growth plans for our physical health, financial wellbeing, and work goals but I want to encourage you to create what the early church called a rule of life. Please don’t allow the word, “rule,” to cause you angst. The word, “rule,” in Greek simply means “trellis.”
A trellis is a tool that enables a grapevine to get off the ground and grow upward, becoming more fruitful and productive. In the same way, a Rule of Life is a trellis that helps us abide in Christ and become more fruitful spiritually. It’s been said that a rule of life is “‘an exterior framework for an interior journey’: a kind of scaffolding to use to build the spiritual structure of our individual life with God.” (Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen) It is an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the center of everything we do.
Rule of Life for a New Year
- Scripture. You may want to begin praying the Psalms. Or reading the Bible through in a year, or begin meditating on Scripture each day.
- Silence and Solitude. You may want to grow in taking 2-5 minutes a day to be in stillness before the Lord, or take a 3 hr retreat once a month.
- Daily Office (Prayer) – Sometimes I have to prime my prayer pump by using the Book of Common Prayer. The Morning Prayer is mostly Psalms and helps me pray beyond my own life.
- Study – you may want to take one of the courses at Chapel Hill in order to deepen your knowledge of God and grow in grace and love. Please go to the Chapel Hill website for more information.
- Sabbath – You may want to begin setting apart a 24 hr period to Sabbath to the Lord. This may be your year project, staring with a ½ day and then building up.
- Simplicity – Maybe you want to remove distractions by downsizing your commitments or to being giving a percentage of your income – 5% or moving to a tithe of 10%.
- Play and Recreation – This may include finding activities that breathe life in you. Some of you may take up a hobby like hiking, cooking, art, music.
- Service and Mission – It may be time for you to step out and begin using your time, or talents to serve others. i.e. the Lord’s Diner, tutoring in Planeview, etc.
- Care for the Physical Body – This could be getting 8 hours sleep or exercising, or shifting your diet.
- Emotional Health – you may want to join a small group that deals with issues of mature relationships, or find a mentor, or begin journaling around losses you have not grieved well. You may want to find a counselor for a season.
- Family – This area concerns itself with growing in your marriage, parenting, your relationships with the opposite sex as a single person. Maybe you want to get training so that you begin relating differently to your parents or siblings.
- Community (companions for the journey). I would encourage you to join a Zoe group.
The key word here is INTENTIONALITY. It requires intentionally to anchor us in the hurricane pace and beast of our twenty-first-century world. Swimming against such a strong current, without the anchor of a Rule of Life, is almost impossible. Eventually we find ourselves unfocused, distracted, and adrift spiritually.
Remember, as Benedict wrote 1,500 years ago, “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way. The love of Christ must come before all else.”
Rev. Jeff Gannon