Book Review: Crafting a Rule of Life

Book Review: Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to a Well-Ordered Way

By: Stephen A. Macchia

Publisher: InterVarsity Press ISBN: 9780830835645

I love this book/workbook (see the website). I’ve been waiting almost three years for it. I was introduced to Stephen Macchia and the Rule of Benedict while attending a Renovaré Conference in June of 2009. Following that conference and the workshop I attended with Dr. Macchia, I immediately set out to use the information I learned from my notes and worksheets and I crafted my own personal Rule of Life. Since that time, I have continued the discipline of practicing a Rule of Life and I’ve taught others to do the same. I was greatly delighted when I was notified that Stephen had finally put together and published a workbook that could be used for individuals and groups. I did not hesitate a moment with getting my own copy.

While the book is arranged and formatted in the style of a workbook (fill-in-the-blank, listed notes, personal journal sections, tables, charts, and etc.), there are very informative reading sections that provide historical context, Biblical reasoning and reflection for the purpose of your rule and what each component of the rule represents, and anecdotal personal interest reading. It is a good and engaging mix that will appeal equally with individuals or groups who will work through Crafting a Rule of Life.

The book begins with an introduction explaining what a Rule of Life is in a literal context and moves from there to give a historical understanding of the same as Macchia shares the origins of the Rule as crafted by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century (540AD).

The workbook is formatted into three primary sections; Part One: Framing Your Personal Rule of Life, Part Two: Forming Your Personal Rule of Life, and Part Three: Fulfilling Your Personal Rule of Life. Each section has a number of sub-sections and exercises to work through that assist in crafting a rule that will result in a workable and unique grouping of disciplines helpful in Christ-like spiritual formation.

Part One is helpful in becoming “self aware” with exercises designed to examine and understand personal relationships, individual gifts and talents, and more. This is a needful first-step in order to proceed to Part Two, which helps to identify the components of your Rule that will need structured and in what capacity of development. Part Three moves the personal rule into a context of community with exercises designed to bring fulfillment to the Personal Rule.

The workbook is completed with a few pages of resources, suggested reading list, and a few personal testimonials from persons sharing their experience with crafting a personal rule of life.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I was and remain very excited about the publication of this book. I plan to use it often as a personal resource guide (my original notes weren’t nearly as comprehensive as this workbook), and as a teaching tool to share this wonderful spiritual discipline. I cannot speak enthusiastically enough about what a positive experience having the Rule of Life in my own spiritual journey has been. This is an excellent resource for the individual and I think it is even better suited for groups. Thank you, Stephen Macchia, for this awesome resource!

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