It’s fine to talk about habits of discipleship. But how do we integrate these habits in a life that’s already overflowing?

James Whitmel Earley faced this question. He reached a crisis point in his life:

I am former non-profit worker in China who suffered an anxiety collapse in the middle of becoming a father and a lawyer. At the time I was living with a lot of hopes and dreams about what I could do, but my day to day life was absolute chaos. It was in my crash that I realized that my hopes and dreams were not enough – I needed a reformation of everyday habits. I needed a set of guardrails that could save me from myself, and keep me pointed at my vision.

Earley developed a set of daily and weekly practices that helped him get back on track. He’s written The Common Rule to share those practices with us. His goal is to help us develop ordinary habits that help to create extraordinary lives.

The book suggests four daily habits:

  • kneeling prayer at morning, midday, and bedtime
  • one meal with others
  • one hour with phone off
  • Scripture before phone

The weekly habits are:

  • one hour of conversation with a friend
  • curate media to four hours
  • fast from something for twenty-four hours
  • Sabbath

The book unpacks each habit, explaining why it’s important and giving clear guidelines for how to practice it.

I appreciated this book. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from building these habits into their lives. When I tell people to develop their own rule of life, I find that many people get stuck. They find the task overwhelming. The Common Rule does some of that hard work for them, providing a clear and practical place to start.

My favorite part of the book may be the epilogue. Earley acknowledges that we will never keep these practices perfectly. “Any process of curating a beautiful life will be laced with failure,” he writes. “That’s what process means: learning as you go. But that’s not an impediment to a beautiful life; it’s the way to it.”

If you want help developing habits that will help you become the person God wants you to be, then get this book and implement its advice. Extraordinary things come from practicing ordinary habits.

Top Quotes

We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits, and those habits shape most of our life. (p. 7)

What if the good life doesn’t come from having the ability to do what we want but from having the ability to do what we were made for? What if true freedom comes from choosing the right limitations, not avoiding all limitations? (p. 11)

I had lived my whole life thinking that all limits ruin freedom, when all along it’s been the opposite: the right limits create freedom. (p. 11)

A rule of life is how we get our hands on our habits. (p. 15)

Many people find that the most impactful daily habit is Scripture before phone, while the most impactful weekly habit is Sabbath. (p. 23)

This vision—of a whole and coherent life—is the goal of a life curated by habit. (p. 163)

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