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  • Writer's pictureRusty McKie

1.Wrestle with Chaos - Rule of Life

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.

  1. Communion - This encompasses anything that allows you to connect relationally with Jesus. Typically, spiritual practices associated with Scripture and prayer. 

  2. Rest - Enjoyment best sums up this category. What helps you enjoy God and His good gifts? Sabbath is essential here. 

  3. Community - Your commitment to friends, family, and church. 

  4. Work - Your paid-work goals, non-paid work goals, and service at church go here. 

Second, consider the rhythms of various practices.

  1. Daily

  2. Weekly

  3. Monthly

  4. Quarterly

  5. Yearly

Third, choose essential practices for this season. 

  1. What do I need right now to experience Jesus?

  2. What activities put a smile on my face and energize me?

  3. 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? Want more help crafting a rule? Check out:

After all that wrestling and creating, you may feel tired. Good news! The next step toward spiritual and emotional stability is to stop to rest.


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