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My Rule of Life

1.2.2020 • 2 Comments

rule of life, goal setting, resolutions, new year, prayer journalGoals are great, but they can also make us feel hurried and overwhelmed by more things we want to do. I want to talk about the secret I’ve found to goals without hurry and without running ahead of God, but before I do, read this quote by Jeremy Linneman and see if it resonates. 

Amid our busy schedules, we’re constantly juggling relationships and responsibilities and often feel like we’re dropping more balls than we’re keeping in the air. When we lack a consistent and thoughtful way of doing life well, we will end up distracted and overwhelmed by life, and our spiritual and emotional growth will plateau. Few of us want to take this approach to life, but it just seems to happen. We wind up:

Scattered: Our schedule is full but doesn’t reflect our purpose and priorities.
Hurried: We’re busier than we want to be, but don’t know what to change.
Reactive: It seems we’re never in charge, always responding to demands.
Exhausted: We end each day weary and discouraged, unsure if we’ve spent it well.

My experience as a pastor has shown me that many of my friends and church members aren’t undone by poor theology or a lack of biblical information. Instead, we often fail to grow spiritually because we haven’t planned and made space for a deep, abiding fellowship with God.

Pretty spot on huh?? One of my biggest fears with being goal-oriented is prioritizing it over the life God is calling me to and essentially making my own plans without Him. I don’t think that fear justifies sitting back and waiting for God to drop opportunities at my doorstep. I’ve talked plenty about God-centered goal setting here and in my book The Finishing School. Recently though, I read about a Rule of Life and I couldn’t help but think it addressed my concerns and fears. 

(Sign up here to be the first to know when we release “Led Not Driven,” Val’s short memoir about learning not to run ahead of God.)

John Mark Comer says  “A rule was a schedule and set of practices to order your life around the way of Jesus in community. It was a way to keep from getting sucked into the hurry, busyness, noise, and distraction of regular life. A way to slow down. A way to live into what really matters: what Jesus called abiding.” 

A way to keep from getting sucked into the hurry, busyness, noise, and distraction of regular life?? YES PLEASE! 

I’ve heard lots of people talk about this concept in recent years (and will list several helpful resources below!) but it wasn’t until I heard John Mark Comer share the above quote and an analogy of a trellis that it all clicked! 

Essentially the secret to not feeling overwhelmed by goals, escaping the hurry and flurry our plans can bring to our life, is by routine checkpoints and pauses in our lives that point us to Jesus. 

From The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer: 

“The word rule comes from the Latin word regula, which literally means ‘a straight piece of wood,’ (think: ruler), but it was also used for a trellis. Think of Jesus’ teaching on abiding in the vine from John 15, one of the most important teachings on emotional and spiritual life…What a trellis is to a vine, a rule of life is to abiding. It’s a structure–in this case a schedule and set of practices–to set up abiding as the central pursuit of your life. 

In a sermon on the same topic he said that without a trellis, plants bear a fraction of the fruit and are vulnerable to threats like coyotes.

We are human. Our natural inclination will always be to drift away. We won’t suddenly drift into a closer relationship with the Lord. And if anything, becoming too focused on our goals can pull us away from God. But when we live a life oriented toward the Lord, with regular pauses that draw us back into an abiding relationship with Him, those goals get oriented to God too.

I thought I’d share the checkpoints in my days, weeks, months, quarters and years. Some are new for 2020. Others I’ve been doing already. With that said, if you aren’t doing something like this already, don’t set yourself up for failure by making an impossible list. Also, this is not something I check off every single day. These are moments and opportunities that I want to be intentional about making a natural (not legalistic) part of my life.


  • Morning quiet time
  • Pre-work time prayer – literally 3 minutes of asking the Lord to guide me as I work
  • Noise-free car ride – One car ride a day is music, podcast or audiobook free. It helps to just breathe. 
  • Stoop time – This doesn’t happen as often as I’d like but on decent weather days when the girls are playing, I’ll take a few minutes to sit on our stoop and look at the clouds.
  • Phone up by 6 – I put my phone on the charger in our laundry room for the night. 
  • Movement (walk, gym, dancing with girls)
  • Pray with Tyler
  • 7.5 hours of sleep


  • Sabbath – a day of rest away from work and screens
  • Small Group – fellowship and accountability 
  • Fasting – I’ve been wanting to fast from breakfast and lunch every Wednesday! I’ve done this a little bit in the last few months and it’s been so helpful to reorient my heart to the Lord.
  • Tithe 10% of personal income

rule of life, goal setting, resolutions, new year, prayer journal


  • One day “off-work” day – I felt led to do this at the beginning of 2019 and haven’t kept up with it well. It’s essentially a tithe of my work time and a reminder that I can just “be” and not always do. 
  • Massage – I’ve dreamed of a monthly massage for YEARS and finally did it when a new place in town offered a special. This might sound super indulgent to some and I think it is but it’s been really sweet prayer time for me and forces me to slow down. 
  • Girl’s Night Out
  • Consider what to pray for – fill out prayer journal
  • Tithe 15% from VMP
  • Host people in our home
  • Volunteer at the Bridge


  • Night away with Tyler – whether it’s in a different city or the girls just sleep out at relatives
  • A week away from social media
  • Review answered prayers – I love looking back to see what things God did maybe later than I expected. 
  • Embrace new season – Meaning actual seasons. This sounds odd but embracing the seasons helps change up our rhythms and get flexible and excited for whatever the Lord has for us next. 


  • June of rest – For the past two years, we’ve been able to stay in a really restful community. We’ve still worked a little but the pace is much different and refreshing! 
  • Week at the beach – We’ve done this my whole life as a family and always find it rejuvenating and it just refocuses me. Just this year though I learned how healing the ocean air actually is for our bodies and now I basically see it like doctor’s orders to go as much as possible! 😉 
  • End of year review of gratitudes and answered prayers – Literally one of my favorite things is to review what God has done by reading through my prayer journal.
  • Trip with Tyler 

There you have it!! Now if you’d like to make your own Rule of Life, here are some resources! 

Great workbook to walk you through the process
Podcast to understand the concept
How to guide
Another great resource on understanding the concept


2019 Goals Recap
Life-Changing Tools of 2019
What I Read in 2019
My 2020 Goals

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Comments (3)

What an important post! I remember reading this when you posted it at the beginning of 2020 and loved it. And then, as I revisited it today as a link from your most recent post on ordering your private life, I was wowed again but for a different reason. There was no way you could’ve known when you wrote and posted it how important it would be for the year and a half that followed it. I am so glad I revisited this today as it is serving to recalibrate how I am looking at life “re-opened”. Thank you, Val.

Awww Wendie, I’m catching up on comments a leeeeetle late but so grateful I saw this today!!!