As I’ve been preaching this series on Pursuing Christ and learning how to follow Jesus more intentionally through a Rule of Life, I’ve tried to make it clear that a rule doesn’t need to be as formal or final as it might sound. We should be careful and prayerful as we ask ourselves how we can pattern our lives to love God and love others, but we don’t need to feel like we are etching everything in stone.
A Rule of Life needs to be examined and revised, not only through prayerful reflection but in loving community with others. We need friends and family who have known us over time and who understand where we are right now to weigh in. They can help us see where a rule may have become prideful about a particular discipline or where our rule is driving us into guilt and feelings of failure.
Sometimes, the best way to revise or develop a rule of life is to identify moments in your life right now that lead you toward the life of Jesus and then create a rule to help encourage you down that path more often. A rule of life is less about re-inventing your habits, but curating and nurturing them.
This is how I’ve been led to a rule of hospitality. On a whim last December, Emily and I jotted down everyone we could remember who had been in our home over the course of the last year. The list kept going and going—we’d hosted a lot more people than I would’ve guessed. We enjoy having people over, and we’ve learned how to maintain the habit without feeling pressured to impress, but it wasn’t until I saw this list that I realized the effect this had on how I thought of others.
On top of this, Emily and I have been recipients of hospitality from our refugee friends on many occasions over the last year or so. And every time they hosted us for a meal, I was overwhelmed by their kindness, generosity, and joyfulness. They were able to create such a loving space in their home for us. Seeing this model inspired me to consider how my own guests felt in my home.
From this, Emily and I have developed a simple rule of hosting someone for dinner in our home at least once a week. There are plenty of other stipulations and principles we try to adhere to, but, as I’ve preached, a Rule of Life isn’t meant to be aspirational. It’s not the ‘high bar.’ It’s the minimum standard you don’t want to drop below. So, while we try to ensure that we are always inviting new people and that the house is always clean and the food is always homemade, we are not above sharing a pizza with the neighbors while the kids dump all their toys on the floor.
When you host someone in your home, you learn to attend to their needs. You take their coat, offer a drink, invite them to sit on the best chair. These little attentions tell you a new story about your home—that it isn’t just your personal Batcave, designed to satisfy your every need. Showing hospitality re-wires you to serve rather than be served. It re-wires you not to fear vulnerability, but to welcome it.
As I’ve come to understand about myself, these are lessons that I desperately need to learn. And this simple rule is teaching me in ways that no book or class ever could.