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Why your life needs a trellis

Change is slow.  As we’ve been looking at emotional and spiritual growth over the past 8 weeks or so, the question arises of how do we see lasting impact in our lives?  Or do we just move on unchanged from this series?

Listen to the talk: Your life needs a trellis

We all make plans about many things in our lives – plans for our careers, plans for retirement, plans of how we will raise and educate our children, plans to travel, plans to buy a home, plans to renovate our home, plans for financial security.  But very few of us have a plan about how we are going to develop our spiritual lives.  And yet there is nothing more important.

What is a Rule of Life?

A Rule of Life is a spiritual formation practice that followers of Jesus have used over the past 2 millenia to keep Jesus at the centre of their lives.  Its not a ‘rule’ like we usually use the word rule – a list of do’s and don’t.  Here the word Rule comes from the Greek word for trellis.  A trellis is a structure that supports a plant like a grapevine, and enables it to grow to its full potential and to produce a lot of fruit.  As Pete Scazzero writes in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:


“A Rule of Life, very simply, is an intentional, conscious plan to keep God at the centre of everything we do.  It provides guidelines to help us continually remember God as the Source of our lives.  It includes our unique combination of spiritual practices that provide structure and direction for us…” 


It is a schedule of practices and activities – some daily, some weekly, monthly, yearly and so on. And is grouped into 4 areas – Prayer & Bible, Rest, Activity, Relationships.  

What is a Rule of Life not?

A Rule of Life is not:

  • A way to impress God or earn His love: His love is a gift and you already have it
  • A competition: every person’s Rule will look different, and there is no point in comparing.  Its about what will keep Jesus central for you, not for anyone else.
  • A big to-do list.  Its a structure that will bring freedom, but a list of onerous tasks.

We all already have some kind of Rule of Life, a rhythm to life, regular activities that we do – and some of these will nurture our relationship with God and others will work against it.  This is an opportunity to look intentionally at the rhythms in our lives, and to make changes so that we are pursuing what we truly want.  Rather than just living reactively, to make choices.


Although the phrase “Rule of Life” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible, there are plenty of examples:

  • Daniel chose to pray 3 times a day and live simply in order to resist the anti-God culture that wanted to engulf him
  • Jesus first disciples left everything to follow him, and learnt an entirely new rhythm of spiritual practices, rest, ministry and community
  • Acts 2:41-47 shows us the first community of Christians after the Holy Spirit was poured out, and the practices that enabled them to thrive in relationship with God and each other.

Where to start

For each of these people the motivation was devotion to Jesus, and a desire to live differently to the culture around them.  Its about what you want.

If you are hungry for more in your relationship with God, and if you want to grow over the long-haul, then give this a try:
Rule of Life Worksheet

And look below for our (Viva) mid-week rhythms. Doing this stuff together makes it that much more likely we’ll actually do it!

This website also has some great ideas and resources:


By Sarah Starr