Review: A Pastoral Rule for Today by by John P. Burgess, Jerry Andrews , Joseph D. Small

Forming a ‘Rule of Life’ is often seen as Catholic and / or Monastic and is not something many Christian’s consider. Even with the rise of Celtic Christianity, the idea of living under a rule of life is not often seen as beneficial of useful. Anglicans have toyed with the idea but again, for many, it seems too catholic to take seriously.

This book argues that a rule of life can and indeed does enhance our Christian walk – it can help provide discipline and it can allow us to grow in a steady pace knowing our goals and providing safe boundaries which we set in place to keep us focused on the Lord.

What is meant by a rule of life? A rule of life would be to determine that you would not speak to anyone else before you spoke to the Lord every morning. Or that you would not eat breakfast before praying. Or that you would, every evening at 7pm, switch off all your devices and spend 40 mins in quite study of the Bible. Each of these is a ‘rule’ of life. You set a boundary and determine to make this boundary a habit for your life.

Forming habits of not just regular prayer but set times that you schedule into your daily life is important. The same is true for reading the Bible. But a rule of life can help in other areas.

A Pastoral Rule for Today’ by Burgess, Andrews and Small uses figures from Church History such as Augustine, Benedict, Gregory the Great, John Calvin, John Wesley, John Henry Newman and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to show how a rule of life is areas such as friendships, holiness of life and how we speak and use words are all valuable. How can these became part of a rule of life? Maybe by setting aside one day a week to make friends with neighbors either through inviting them over for a meal or going somewhere with them. Or you may decide you want your words to bring life and not death and so you form a habit to pause before you respond or speak to people.

Not only are you treated to some history and insight into who these men were but the authors point you to how these men can show us the benefits and usefulness of a Pastoral Rule.

The final chapter of the book is a suggestion, guide or template (you decide) of the nuts and bolts of establishing your own contemporary rule of life.

Setting firm, spiritual, and godly boundaries into our lives and making them life habits is so valuable and I commend this book to you.