An On-Purpose Life
You know the feeling. In the hurried, stressed-out, over-packed "normal", you wake up and realize everything's just a little bit (or a lot) out of control? You're not living the way you expected, the way you really want to. Jesus, family, friends, ministry are squeezed out of your schedule by all the "urgents" and "disasters" and "have to's". The unintentional is taking over what you intended your life to be.
Our pace of life might be faster than past generations, but the need for intentional living isn't new. For almost as long as there's been the Church, Christ-followers have been advocating a plan to live an on-purpose life.
A plan like this has been traditionally called a Rule of Life, but don't let the name scare you. While we think of rules as pesky mini-laws to get you in trouble, they used the term "Rule" (from the Latin regula) but more like "regular" or "routine" -- as in, this is my regular pattern of living, the way I do things, the rhythm of how I want to live my life.
We all have been subject to different Rules of Life. The Boy Scouts have one (On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.), your work probably has one (team meetings on Mondays; expense reports due by the 3rd; clean up your mess in the copy room), your city has one (we all drive on the right, city council meetings on alternate Wednesdays, every July 4th there's a parade & fireworks).
The value of a Rule of Life is that it helps you live on purpose, rather than on the fly. It puts a stop to the cascading consequences that steal your good intentions away. Over time, days lived on purpose become lives lived on purpose, rather than a string of days filled with crisis-management and unintended results. It's little wonder why, though few use the term, many time management experts and goal-setting coaches advocate the use of a Rule of Life.
Rules of Life can be individual, or for a community. Perhaps you'd like to develop one with your family (eat dinner together, don't hit, family devotionals), small group (pray for one another, be authentic, come consistently), or church (we give our time, talents and resources for the kingdom). Or perhaps, you want to craft one for yourself.
To make your Rule of Life, set aside some time with your Bible and some paper. Come ready to think and pray. Take a tip from centuries' of Christians, and ground your rules in scripture and wisdom. Don't attempt to outline every detail of life--just stick to the important bits, and don't put down anything because it "sounds good" or because someone else included it their Rule. A Rule of Life is useless if it's unlivable or if it leads you to someone else's idea of what life should be like!
Start with what's most important (Augustine started his with "Before all else, beloved, love God and then your neighbor, for these are the chief commandments given to us.")
Think & pray through questions like: How can I live out my faith more fully? What do I value? What does Jesus say an abundant life will look like? What spiritual practices and disciplines form me? Who do I want to spend my time with? What do I want to invest my life doing and becoming? How do I want to treat people? How has God wired and gifted me? What logistical details do I personally need to prevent cascading consequences?
Living an on-purpose life won't remove every hiccup in life. Sometimes, you'll still be late. Sometimes you'll act on the fly. Remember that your "rule" isn't law, it's just how you arrange your normal, on-purpose way of living, so show yourself some grace... then get back to living your life the way you want to: an intentional, on-purpose life.