In my years of ministry, I constantly find people who are adrift in their spiritual life, work life, and personal life. Though churches try guide them through life, I feel we’ve become more of a reactionary culture than a culture of intentional action. I know I certainly tend to be more reactionary than I would like.
Sometimes it feels as though the world has suddenly changed around us, although we’ve been on this trajectory for a long time. We have been training ourselves to immediately respond to everything: emails, text messages, phone calls, Facebook posts, Tweets, deadlines, and meetings. We’ve become a culture that is maxed out and we don’t have margins in our lives. We’ve are so focused on “project self” everything has become off-balance.
Last Saturday I took my kids to an outreach event where we made sandwiches for the homeless. Days before the event I was scheduled to pick up half a dozen kids who wanted help and was told by a dozen other people that they would be attending the event too. As the days got closer, I got one call after another cancelling for various reasons. Now I tell you this not to guilt or shame those who did not attend but as an example of the way we react too quickly and overcommit, only to not able to follow through with everything we’ve said “yes” to.
Can we admit that we’ve all fallen into a reactionary way of life? Even as I write this post, I’ve received three phones calls I feel pressure to respond to immediately. The American church is guilty of this reactionary impulse as well. Perhaps this is why in the western church culture we are more interested in hearing moralistic messages on how to live a “better life” then we are in hearing a message from scripture. Sure, preachers will reference scripture but mostly just isolated passages that fit their main points.
We’ve sacrificed healthy rhythms of life and instead “fit things in” around everything else we do.
What if things looked different? What if we were different? What if we responded differently than everyone else does? What if we were actually able to gain control of the way we live and how we respond to everything? What if we actually became a culture of people who were called out to live differently in the way of God?
The best way we can tame this habitual, reactionary tendency is to develop a Rule of Life. It is not another set of “goals” or a “to do” list but a structure for your life. It’s also not a set of rules to follow but a helpful guide for us to live by. It would be best to think of it as the safety barriers on the side of a highway to help the commuters of life stay on a God’s path. This sounds wonderful and in all honesty there is nothing new about a Rule of Life. The Church Fathers saw a need early on for this guidance for the health of the Church. Sure, things were different then than they are today but the condition of the heart still remains the same: reaction instead of action.
I’m asking you to consider creating a Rule of Life for yourself and your family. I am not asking you to drastically change the way you live, although some of you are going to have to start saying “no” to things. Some are going to have to start moving things around in your schedules and prioritizing things in your life. Some of you are going to have to start making Sunday church attendance a higher priority in life. And some of you may discover that the life you always wanted may actually be within your reach and you didn’t even know it. I was recently inspired by this helpful resource for creating a Rule of Life by Michael Jarrett and recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more.
Pray about and seek the Lord’s direction. I believe the church can help individuals and families develop a rhythm to life to combat this tendency to be reactionary. Later this year we will dive deeper into this subject but until then I am asking you to just start thinking about what drives your life, reaction or intentional action. And pray about this idea of moving into a guided Rule of Life.