“An easy way for me to start talking with You is to thank You for being my Savior-God and beloved Friend. I can also give You thanks for things that are happening in my life, in my family, and beyond. These prayers of thanksgiving connect me with You and ease my way into other types of prayers.”
– Jesus Listens, October 8th
Decision fatigue is real. Weekday mornings used to be riddled with anxiety for one of my sons—finding the clothes he wanted for any given school day left us scrambling more than once. We now live in a school district with an established dress code for students: plain polos and pants. The dress code provided the structure he needed. Weekday mornings became a lot less stressful for everyone when we got into the routine of simplifying his outfit choices.
Creating a rule of life for your family is less about developing hard and fast rules, and
more about taking time to prayerfully, faithfully, and honestly reflect on your family’s
beliefs and values so you can examine how your life choices—big and small—reflect what you hold dear. A rule of life can give you a framework for significant decisions (Should I take this job? Should we move? Are we ready to become foster parents?) and small ones (Should we host our neighbors for a barbecue? How much money should we spend on birthday gifts? Should we sign our child up for soccer
Returning to What Matters Most
Returning to what matters most can lead you to freedom when you’re stuck. When you sketch out a rule of life, you create scaffolding to give your family stability as you build your life together. When you need discernment in making choices, both the everyday ones and the monumental ones, this gives you a place to turn to remind you of what’s most important—and why. It might help to consider your rule of life an always-changing, ever-evolving values statement.
Creating a rule of life is a spiritual practice that goes back thousands of years to Saint
Benedict, and it has been a helpful practice for Christians across tradition, denomination, and background ever since. I don’t know about you, but my family life is loud, and our rhythms of everyday life couldn’t feel further from the lifestyle of Benedictine monks.
Thankfully, we can distill and borrow the essence of Benedict’s seventy-three-chapter rule to help us order our life together.
Ask These Two Simple Questions
Simply put, a family rule of life boils down to two questions:
- Who do we want our family to be?
- How do we want to live so we become more who we want to be?
Before you begin writing your family’s rule of life, take a moment to pray—on your own or with your children. Ask God to be a light to your path, guiding you as you journey
deeper into your family’s journey of faith together. Let any stress about getting it right or
shame about not living into your values fall away. Be honest, and remember that God is
full of mercy and compassion.
The goal isn’t to whip up a never-ending report, but to thoughtfully create a simple, one-page sheet you can place somewhere (I suggest the refrigerator!) to remind your family of what matters, rooting you back into God’s love.
Creating a Family Rule of Life
- Identify one to three core values you want your family to live more deeply into during this season. What matters most to you? Why?
- Write simple vows that summarize what the values mean in your family’s real-life context. Make sure to include the reason behind your vows. For example, if your value is listening, you might write, “Because we value listening in our family, we vow to listen to ourselves, one another, God’s Word, and our neighbors with greater curiosity and compassion.”
- Brainstorm actionable habits that might help you live out your vows. What can you do to embody these values as a way to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself (see Mark 12:30-31)? To build off the example of listening, perhaps your family might invite a neighbor over for pizza once a month.
- Look at your family calendar. How can you incorporate these habits into your rhythm and routines? How will you incorporate these habits daily?
Questions to Consider
- Where do you spend your time in a given week?
- How do you spend your resources?
- Where do you live?
- How do your life choices reflect (or deflect from) your values?
- In what way are your values cultural?
- In what ways are they of Christ?
- What do you want your kids to reflect on and remember about the rhythms of your shared life?
Consider setting aside time annually or at the beginning of each season to revisit and examine your answers to the above questions. May you grow alongside your family in Christ as you create your own rule for this season.Adapted from Every Season Sacred by Kayla Craig. Used with permission by Tyndale
About The Author
Kayla Craig is a former journalist who brings deep curiosity and care to her writing. She’s the author of Every Season Sacred, releasing in September 2023, and To Light Their Way. With a poetic, prophetic voice, she created the popular Liturgies for Parents Instagram account, which Christianity Today named an “essential parenting resource.” She also hosts the Liturgies for Parents podcast. Kayla’s nuanced and accessible reflections, essays, and prayers are featured in various books, devotionals, and Bible studies. Kayla lives in a 115-year-old former convent in her Iowa hometown, where she hopes to create spaces of welcome alongside her four children, two dogs, and pastor-husband, Jonny.
Author photo taken by Anj Olson of Anj Portrait Studio, copyright © 2022.