This week I audited a course at Regent College in Vancouver, called Taking Your Soul to Work. (I really enjoyed this week of professional development and vacation, and I’m already thinking about doing it again next year.) Going into the course, I was excited to learn about a theology of work, but I didn’t realize how much of the content would be drawn from historical Christian traditions such as desert monasticism, the Benedictine Rule, and Ignatian spirituality.
The main action item I gave myself based on the course is to craft my own rule of life, which is a new concept for me. A rule of life is a slate of spiritual disciplines, developed on one’s own and/or with the input of trusted advisors, to be incorporated into one’s life at set intervals: daily, weekly, annually, etc. Despite the rigid connotations of the word “rule,” the term in this context implies a “life-giving rhythm” (to quote Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Matthew 11:28-30 in The Message). Rather than more items on a to-do list, the disciplines are a way to become aware of God’s presence amidst the “secular” activities of one’s life. (Another idea we discussed in this class: There’s no such thing as a secular activity.)
A rule of life can include, among many others, such practices as observing a weekly Sabbath rest, reading Scripture daily, praying the examen prayer (more on this is a later post), and taking a semi-annual silent retreat. My initial instinct is to sit down for an hour and quickly knock out a rule for my life, but I think it will be wiser to process what I’ve learned this week and craft my rule one item at a time. My plan is to blog about this process along the way. Want to join me?
This is fascinating! I love how intentional and thoughtful these are.
Tess, this is so interesting! Could you recommend some reading on this topic for those of us who didn’t attend the course but would like to learn more about this topic?
Hey Kristen, I’m glad you asked! I would recommend starting with the book Taking Your Soul to Work by R. Paul Stevens and Alvin J. Ung. They were also the professors of the course I took. In the bibliography, they cite a lot of their favorite books on workplace theology and spiritual practices. I’m also reading Stevens’s book Work Matters. He goes through the Bible and does short studies on biblical figures who are good and/or bad examples of how to work. The chapters don’t go very deep, but this book has an even longer bibliography for further reading. If you follow me on Goodreads, you can see a lot of those titles because I’ve added them to my to-read list.
What a lovely concept! This reminds me of when we talk about authenticity in therapy (being genuine to your believes and finding the time and space to express what matters to you.)
Thanks for Sharing,
[…] Here is the first of the series I wrote following the class on spiritual disciplines. The series continued through July and August 2016–check out the archives. […]