My family is not so different from yours. We are busy. I am a pastor. My wife is a counselor and though part-time, she sees around 20 clients a week right now and works 2.5 days including 2 nights until about 10 p.m. We have a daughter who is 18 and a high school senior. Everything that comes with senior year, jobs, and college prep is taking place there. We have a son who is three. Toddlers keep you busy enough, but Asa has also had extensive medical issues including Clubfoot and Apraxia which means there has seldom been a month in his life that we were not either at Children’s Mercy or Specialized Therapy 1-2 times a week. Our life is busy.
In the midst of this busyness, it was vitally important that we create rules of life to help guide us. These rules are based on convictions that we have biblically and personally for what life and family is to look like. They are rules built on those convictions with an end result in mind. The way in which these rules are practiced may change from season to season, but the rules remain because they are guide posts to help our family not get off course.
As we began to develop these rules, we crafted them into four focuses: yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily rules. Over the coming weeks, I’ll write on focused areas of rules in hopes that perhaps something of the gospel-intentionality we have learned may encourage your family to practice the intentionality of rules of life as well.
Note: We, in no way, feel as if we have figured this out or arrived. We do not expect anyone to do exactly what we do or how we do it. We do, however, want to encourage our readers to think intentionally about how you spend your days, weeks, months, and years to best declare and display the gospel within your family and to those outside your family.
A great resource if you are desiring to explore rules of life more is Crafting a Rule of Life by Stephen Macchia.
Yearly Rules of Life
Rules of life are intended to help our family be intentional in our gospel-fluency. Therefore when we think about yearly rules of life, we want to think about ways to build gospel conversation and gospel reflection into our yearly schedule. Some of our rules are original, and some we’ve learned from others. Here are a few of the rules we’ve built into our year.
Easter is a busy day for pastors. Our churches often spend more time and energy on the Easter gathering than a typical weeks gathering because Easter is proven to be the most attended day of the year by those who are unchurched. Our church usually has a church-wide picnic that afternoon. So our families’ celebration of Easter begins with gathering with our church family that morning. Then we’ll go home and crash for a few hours that afternoon. Sunday night we’ll have a feast as a family and with friends. At this feast we will celebrate the bread of life that is our resurrected Jesus. The climax of Resurrection Rest, though, falls on the Monday after Easter. Easter Monday is a mandatory day of rest for our family. This means that we don’t work and we don’t go to school. We rest. Why? Because the gospel response to the resurrection is rest. Because our Jesus rose from the dead, he now sits at the right hand of God the Father making intercession on our behalf. Because he is making intercession on our behalf, we can rest for we need not try to earn a presence before our Father. It has been granted by the risen Son.
Yes, even family vacation is a rule of life and it is gospel-opportunity. When we go on vacation as a family we get to teach our children the Biblical call to rest spiritually as well as the Biblical responsibility to care for our souls and our bodies through physical rest. Lastly, it helps us teach our children that you can worship our creator through enjoying the creation and life he has given us.
At the beginning of Autumn, we take a weekend and celebrate our annual fall festival. My wife makes a feast including stew and home-made-bread. We celebrate the coming of death. Yes, the coming of death is something to be celebrated. As leaves and grass begin to die, Autumn gives way to the coming spring which will bring life. Death is not something to be feared, but embraced for through death comes life. This allows us to remember that as Christians we celebrate death. We celebrate the death because through his death, Christ purchased life for us. We celebrate death because through faith in Jesus we die and find life. This is demonstrated through baptism (buried with Christ and risen to new life). Lastly, we celebrate death because through Jesus we do not have to fear the end of our physical life, but can look forward to the day we pass from this life through death and into eternal life. We conclude this celebration by enjoying life on Saturday as we partake in the great pumpkin patch adventure.
Celebration of Light
We love to decorate our house for Christmas. My wife makes the inside of our home a peaceful winter-wonder land. We don’t just wake up one day and say, “Let’s decorate today.” Instead, we have the day on our calendar all year long. We look forward to that day. We decorate the house throughout the day but we refuse to turn on any Christmas lights throughout the day. As the kids (and parents) see the tree going up and the garland wrapping around the bannister, yet no lights come on, there is a growing anticipation of the coming light. We talk about how the people of Israel waited thousands of years for the coming light of the world. We talk about how we are no longer waiting for the light to come for Jesus was the light of the world and we now celebrate the light that has come while at the same time, awaiting the light that will come again. That night, after the house is decorated and ready, we order in the best pizza we can have delivered, we put on our pj’s, and we turn on the lights! Finally! The year-long anticipation that had built to a point of nearly uncontainable excitement had been worth it. The light is more beautiful and more peaceful than we thought. We sit and eat pizza and watch our first Christmas movie of the year as we enjoy the lights.
What about your family? What are your yearly rules of life that help you to intentionally declare and display the gospel to your family?