How much support do you receive from family, friends, your church, or an organized support group? Christians believe we receive our best and utmost support from God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and the church, the body of Christ. But support groups also offer opportunities for us to be accountable to someone for our “rule of life.” You probably have set up rules that govern your life, whether you realize it or not.
Good schools and businesses are known to teach their guidelines for operations. These guidelines are often called mission statements. But “rule of life” seems a better term to fit individuals, families, and churches. One church states, “A rule of life is simply a structure in which spiritual formation is facilitated.” The Latin term for “rule” is “regula.” The Latin word doesn’t carry all the negative implications of the English word “rule.”
The Latin term indicates self-imposed rules that one longs to practice. A Rule of Life is simply a tool for growth, “not a pair of iron pants,” someone suggests. They help to identify boundaries and govern behavior.
We all need support to succeed in life. We need guidance from those who are farther ahead on the journey, and I’m a member of several support groups. One is through my church, called a Life Group. About 15-20 in number, David and my group meets in homes on scheduled Sunday evenings to study the Bible and pray together.
Another support group I’m in is an online community of six women. We communicate by e-mail, and we met through a Christian writers’ group in 2005. Trish, Karen, Brenda, Terra, and Leslie are lovely women with sweet souls. Since we all write for the general public as well as the Christian market, we teamed up to support each other in our personal lives and writing careers. We’ve not all met in person, but we have co-authored a book together and have other projects in mind.
These women pray for me and I pray for them. We pattern our group after the Bible hero Barnabas, who was called “Son of Encouragement” by the apostles (Acts 4:36). Cecil Murphey, co-author of “90 Minutes in Heaven,” calls Barnabas, “a sponsor of champions.” Someone in our online women’s group dubbed us the Barnabas Babes, if babes can range in the ages of 40s-60s. For our collaborative writing projects, we chose a more subtle name, the Word Quilters.
A few years back, we came up with a list of 22 “rules” or goals to aid our children to develop to their full potential. Parents, you may find these helpful in rearing your family or you may recognize some you already practice, even though they are not written. Lately, after reviewing my list, I saw how they could guide adults as well.
Here’s the list we developed: Be on time. Do the best job you can so you don't have to redo work. Don't procrastinate. Value everyone. Respect God. Honor your parents. Be honorable in private moments and in public. Only let worthwhile material feed your mind. Volunteer. Use good manners.
Respect senior citizens. Treat others as you want to be treated. Tell the truth. Be honest in all aspects of life. Use clean language. Be kind to animals. Take care of possessions. Eat nutritious foods. Exercise. Value education. Play fair. Enjoy life.
Think about your Rule of Life and write them down, and then find a support group to help you achieve results. For especially hard times there are specialty groups who support the grieving, the divorced, recovering addicts, parents of special needs children, families living with Alzheimer’s disease, or families in crisis. You can connect with some of these groups through local churches.
I pray that you will think about your life rules this week, and be in church this Sunday with likeminded people. Remember, your Rule of Life is not a set of iron pants they are a path to an abundant life.