I like patterns. I like predictable. I like knowing what comes next. I am fond of saying about myself that I am not a creature of habit, but a creature of routine. In order to get ready for the day I have pattern, the same pattern everyday, a ritual if you will, that I follow:
Make my Lunch.
Brush my teeth.
Its pretty straight forward, easy and predictable.
So, when my Pastor asked me to develop a Rule of Life for our church community, I figure this would be right up my alley. As I researched more about what a Rule of Life was and how thy work, I came across three different kinds:
- A practical guide for reflection.
- This is the kind described in “Spirituality for Everyday Living.”
- It is a process of looking back to propel one forward in spiritual growth.
- An intentional pattern for spiritual growth.
- This can be best described by Michael’s Frost “B.E.L.L.S.”
- Its an active course for living what someone believes.
- A “flight plan” for spiritual growth.
- An individually written pledge for living a life of faith. http://ruleoflife.com/myrule/
- A credo
- A manifesto
- A declaration
After looking at these three forms, I settled on a combination of the 1st and 2nd. I wanted to develop a reflective pattern for spiritual growth. In doing this I moved away from the word “Rule” because of the heavy handed connotations it carries and replaced it with “Rhythm.” We are all familiar with rhythms. One dictionary defines a Rhythm as, “a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.” And I would add the word “practice” to this definition too.
Before thinking about what would be the Rhythm, I asked myself what I wanted it do and be. I split all my thoughts in three categories:
Critical Features of the Rhythm:
- Formative and transformative: Maturity, change and growth are clear and notable (potentially verifiable too).
- Scalable: open to those starting their spiritual journey and to those who have been traveling a long time.
- Cyclical: it is a pattern that is used over and over again to facilitate deeper maturity.
Important Features of the Rhythm:
- Liberating: Freedom not slavery (legalism), must be an intentional by-product.
- Challenging: The intention is that we will be pushed in a direction we would not normally go, to do what we would not normally do, to look into areas of our life that we would not normally look. If it is easy, comfortable or easy to dodge, it will be useless.
- Reflective: It must include times to reflect and examine. It is not busy work or something to be rushed through in order to be marked off a to-do list.
- Communal: There has to be an accountable and encouraging component.
- Missional: It must reflect the sending character of God himself, as it pushes us to be light in a dark world.
- Accessible: It has to be attainable and achievable.
- Adaptable: It must be flexible to accommodate life stages, literal season changes and must transcend external aspects of life like, geography, income, social status, etc.
Advantageous Features of the Rhythm:
- Inviting: There has to be something attractive and desirable about it. Users must see a winsome beauty and benefit inherent in it.
- Actionable: This is not purely intellectual or reflective exercise. The fruit of it will be manifest in Christlike behavior and work.
- Functional: Participants have to be able to incorporate it into their daily lives.
- Practical: It cannot be allowed to stay in the abstract, but must become realistic and everyday.
After some retooling here is the basic Rhythm:
- Assess– Where am I now?
- Connect– What do I need?
- Reflect– What did I hear?
- React– What do I do?