The Common Rule
Habits form us more than we form them.
The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. We yearn for the freedom and peace of the gospel, but remain addicted to our technology, shackled by our screens, and exhausted by our routines. But because our habits are the water we swim in, they are almost invisible to us. What can we do about it?
The answer to our contemporary chaos is to practice a rule of life that aligns our habits to our beliefs. The Common Rule offers four daily and four weekly habits, designed to help us create new routines and transform frazzled days into lives of love for God and neighbor. Justin Earley provides concrete, doable practices, such as a daily hour of phoneless presence or a weekly conversation with a friend.
These habits are “common” not only because they are ordinary, but also because they can be practiced in community. They have been lived out by people across all walks of life—businesspeople, professionals, parents, students, retirees—who have discovered new hope and purpose. As you embark on these life-giving practices, you will find the freedom and rest for your soul that comes from aligning belief in Jesus with the practices of Jesus.
"Creation is full of holy rhythms of life. There is a way to live that honors and embodies these rhythms. The Common Rule is a beautiful, inviting resource that helps us do just that. It is an important guide to living more deeply rooted in God's life-giving kingdom."
"One of the biggest problems among believers today is their lack of discipline. Consequently, they do not live up to the expectations of Jesus as we can see in the decreasing morality in our country. The Common Rule presents a common-sense discipline that any follower of Jesus could use to become a joyful missionary disciple."
"Habitually choosing what is best over and above what is loud and urgent has never been more difficult than in a culture of perpetual distraction. 'But where do I begin?' people ask. In this book, Justin Earley offers the answer. Follow his lead, and you will find much of your life handed back to you."
"It is encouraging to see a new generation of Christians wrestling with the formative power of habits and rituals. Our patterns of life shape our attitudes and actions more than we may realize. The Common Rule urges us to consider our habits in a new light and to embrace a new way of life in which we self-consciously limit ourselves in order to pursue what is best for us and for our neighbors."
"Although I'm a church leader who has known the Lord for decades, I struggle to find space in my days to actually abide in Christ. Instead, I'm tethered to the demands that barrage me through my smartphone. The Common Rule offers a practical way back—not only for individuals but also for churches and small groups."
"Books are not meant to be just read. The good ones move you. The great ones change you. I'm now a fan of Justin Whitmel Earley. He's done something that is not so common: he teaches us eight habits that not only change our own lives but more importantly change the lives of those who choose to follow us."
"Justin Earley offers a lifeline to every busy, smartphone addicted, distracted person on earth. In his deeply personal and immensely practical book, he inspires us to find a rhythm that will support our most life-giving relationship of all—our friendship with Jesus."
"In the spirit of Richard Foster, Eugene Peterson, and so many other reflective authors, this book on the common rule is an exciting contribution to the family God. Each of us needs and longs for a path to deepen our sense of being in this world. So many Christian writers just give us one more self-help book. The Common Rule breaks that mold and serves as a call to deeper intimacy with God."
"Justin Whitmel Earley's honest walk through anxiety gives hope to anyone who needs a new way. The Common Rule becomes an accessible way to move forward in your walk with Christ, whether battling anxiety or simply wanting to find Christ at the center of your life. Earley's fresh look at a liturgical life comes off the page and into your daily life. This book is a refreshing reminder that community, shared meals, fasting, praying, silence, and rest all have deep effects on our lives. In a society of fast food and split families, the return to the table is more important than ever. Earley lived the fast-paced world of no margin where everyone has free access to his life, yet in the pages of this book, we see he has found another way–another way for us all."
"When someone asks how you're doing and you always find yourself answering, "So busy and crazy," it might be time for a change. The Common Rule offers practical wisdom on how to slowly but deliberately restructure our lives, and it shows us that when we embrace limitations, we paradoxically gain the freedom we long for."
"I'm thankful for the Common Rule because it is a practical tool to save me from the tyranny of machine-like productivity. The book and practices remind me that I am a human being and not a human doing. Read this book and save yourself from the tyranny!"
"In the present age, we are settling to be informed when the call is to be transformed. I'm no Luddite, but we must rethink the way technology and busyness are affecting our loves. The Common Rule not only has incredible practical advice for daily and weekly rhythms, it also opens our eyes to see the water we're swimming in. Every church should consider using this as a resource for formation."
"This is a wonderfully practical book. But even more, it is a beautiful one—full of glimpses of the life we were made for and the simple choices that can take us in that direction. The habits described here and the wisdom they embody are the path toward sanity in a frenetic world."
"The Common Rule is an engaging, relevant, and transforming guide for cultivating spiritual discipline amid the distractions and attractions of life and the daily pressures and challenges of just getting by. The spiritual practices Justin offers are not simply habits and forms adapted for modern life but are habits and forms developed in the painful crucible of personal experience. This book is worth reading and its ways worth pursuing."
"I love the practicality of this book. Justin Whitmel Earley understands and embodies the reality that we show what we love and value by the daily habits of our lives."
Introduction: Discovering the Freedom of Limitations
Part 1: How to Practice the Common Rule
What Is a Rule?
The Eight Habits of the Common Rule
Part 2: The Daily and Weekly Habits
Daily Habit 1: Kneeling Prayer at Morning, Midday, and Bedtime
Daily Habit 2: One Meal with Others
Daily Habit 3: Daily Hour with Phone Off
Daily Habit 4: Scripture Before Phone
Weekly Habit 1: One Hour of Conversation with a Friend
Weekly Habit 2: Curate Media to Four Hours
Weekly Habit 3: Fast from Something for Twenty-Four Hours
Weekly Habit 4: Sabbath
Epilogue: On Failure and Beauty
-Habits in a Nutshell
-Trying One Habit of the Common Rule
-Trying a Week of the Common Rule
-Trying a Month of the Common Rule
-The Common Rule for Congregations
-A Prayer for Those Trying the Common Rule Habits
-The Common Rule as a Rule of Life
-The Common Rule for Different Walks of Life