I recently read a magazine article about twelve rules some random dude chooses to live by. He said that he never breaks any of them- though severalĀ  were vague enough to provide some wiggle room. This writer claimed that he kept his rules with him at all times and meditated on them, because they helped him make decisions.

We all have precepts like this, but how often do we explicitly express them? I believe that articulating our values could help us all live a little better, so I’m going to give it a shot and would encourage you to do the same.


(but not in a legalistic way, know?)

1- Love God (Mark 12:30). A natural, stereotypical first for a Jesus-person, right? Oh well. Sometimes you’re just like everyone else and it’s not bad. I think God is crazy, but my best friends are too, so it makes sense that we’d be tight like that. This relationship sets the foundation for everything else in my life and this rule holds all the others in place.

2- Love People (Mark 12:31). I think humans suck. We merit death and hell and most of us deserve food poisoning at least twice a year, but somehow, I love people, like 89 percent of the time. Nothing is more valuable than human life and we have to treat each other that way. I genuinely believe that every person out there has something awesome about them- sometimes we just have to dig awfully, horribly, painfully deep to discover what it is.

3- Left foot first, but only when I’m putting socks on. I don’t know what that means, but I seem to have a penchant for the inane experiences that leave other people scratching their heads. I think there’s a sense of the divine in all the most random, ridiculous things we encounter because like I said earlier, I believe that God is nuts. There’s no biblical precedence for that, other than the whole redeeming humanity thing, but that story only implies that God is crazy.

4- Write every day. I used to have a daily word minimum, just to keep myself in the practice and to try to stay sharp. I have not met my quota for some time now, but perhaps I need to revisit that. Writing sits somewhere between devotion and meditation. It’s both cathartic and enraging, sometimes in the same sentence and I think I need all of that, every day.

5- Fear no beer. This isn’t about alcohol. My formative Christian years were in a community where all alcohol was evil. This rule acknowledges that even Christian culture is fallible and that as long as I follow my convictions and the word of God, the status quo is not important.

6- Exclude no one. If I don’t include somebody, there is no guarantee that someone else will. I need to practice this rule again and again, so I can build an army of misfits who will help me in my ploy for world domination! I used to be better at this than I currently am, but I’m praying for the grace to love the unlovely and become a better person as a result.

7-Be honest. Somebody once said, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” Sometimes, this happens as I make confessions before God. Other times, it’s confronting injustice or ranting about something that I did not like (talking crap). I have to stick to my convictions, or else all will be lost to prosperity preachers and terrible rap artists.

8- Do what you say you will. Integrity is gold in a world of paper money. I’ve dealt with flakiness- it’s ugly and annoying. So I value the words of the trustworthy humans I encounter and I strive to maintain a decent level of credibility so that others will believe what I have to say and know they can depend on me.

9- Forgive. I’m relatively offensive and I may also be rebellious. Without forgiveness, I’d be one lonely dude, so I have to give away exactly what I need. Mostly so I’m not a hypocrite, but it really does have some other uses, too.

10- Only make threats when I don’t mean them. I say some relatively outrageous stuff. The consequences to my words become a little more meaningful as I get older, so I’ll only be mean/funny because if I say something about stabbing someone when I’m actually pissed, I might find myself in a lot of trouble.

If I made it to twelve rules, this post would be too long. I’m considering making this fit in my wallet and keeping it with me, but we’ll see.

What are some of your rules to live by?

Filed under: Oh Jake.....

  1. "Speak the truth even if your voice shakes." Wow. That's so great. My rules run along the same line as yours do. I would add the cliche but very true: Don't be a cheap knock off of someone else, be the best version of you, and say what you mean and mean what you say (which is basically #8).
    • jake
      It's a better way of saying #8 :) The article was in Men's Health, and it was fascinating and felt very new age to me, but it was inspiring!
  2. Angie
    "Do what you say you will. Integrity is gold in a world of paper money." I really like the way you worded this. I've been thinking about integrity a lot since Wednesday came and went...and a stack of green files landed next to my desk to fix. It's hard for me to not be pissy about it but it's also challenged me to think about if I am following through on what I say I will do. Love God & people & write and, for me, I'm trying NOT to say #8 too much (you know what I mean!)
    • jake
      NUMBER EIGHT! I'm still not convinced that Wednesday was an integrity issue, but that person and I had other conversations, but that's not important. I know I'm not perfect at this part of the game, but if I could choose to be absolutely flawless in anything, it'd be in my commitments. Too bad I'm not there.... perhaps someday, but I'm still going to try.
  3. In no way an exhaustive list, and not really something I took time to genuinely reflect on (yet), here are some of mine: Do what you say you will is a huge one for me. It's something my grandfather instilled in me - to always be a man of my word. Give your best in everything. If you can't give your best, don't do it. Love God. Love others. Hate sin. I do really like the one you mentioned about including everyone. I might have to add that to my list.
    • jake
      Hmmmm. Hate sin, I spaced that one. :) I shouldn't have, either, considering that my faith background includes people who love to hunt for sin. Then again, maybe I wanted to run away from that one. And Yesh, we ought to try to include everyone. It's amazing how many people are lonely on a regular basis- they don't reach out to people, or they fail when they do, but on the other end, they seem to be ignored. At least, I've encountered a lot of that in the ministry I've participated in during the past several years. Anyway, I want you to makea list on your site!