The Rule

What Is the Mentored Life?

God, in Jesus Christ, has invited us into abundant life and right relationship. This invitation is given in the life, death, resurrection and indwelling presence of Jesus.

Jesus invites us to follow him (John 1), and promises to give us the power to do all that we’ve seen him do (John 14).  Our response to this loving invitation lies in our choosing to follow Jesus and growing in the likeness of God’s character. This is an active, ongoing choice. The results of this choosing are described in “the mentored life.” The mentored life is a vision of the life of a disciple who is learning to live and love like Jesus. None of us have fully attained this life, but it is our promised reality toward which we live. It is possible because of God’s grace and our Holy Spirit-inspired and -empowered effort. Without a destination, how will we know where to go?

With you in the journey,

Debby Bellingham

About the Mentored Life Rule

The Mentored Life is the product of an unfolding process. It began with a guiding spiritual rule I wrote at the prompting at the Holy Spirit. A daily devotional followed, expanding the concepts of the Mentored Life, and then a study guide was created to teach these concepts.

In the spring of 2005 I was charged with rethinking the concept of membership for the church at which I was spiritual formation pastor.  At the time I was on a personal retreat and studying the rule of St. Benedict.  This got me thinking…What if our church community had a rule we all agreed to live by as our guide for membership?  What could a person who committed to be a member of our community expect from the association?  And what would be expected of the person who decided to join and travel through life with this local body of believers?   I picked up my laptop computer and wrote the Mentored Life Rule; free association, no word-smithing or deep processing, just flow of thought.  It took about an hour and after I finished it, I closed my laptop and put it away for a while.  (I was on a personal retreat and not supposed to be working, right?)

A few days later I reread the rule and thought, “Hey, this could be good for our church community.”  So I shared it with the other leaders of our church and all agreed it was a great description of the life of a follower of Jesus.

The rule as it currently exists was the first draft.  I didn’t change a word of it from the hour of its creation.  Any writer knows that there is no such thing as a first draft being the final draft.  This was.  That’s why I feel it was a gift of the Holy Spirit working through me.  I was just the scribe.

The Mentored Life rule consists of a prologue that introduces the idea and the promise of allowing the life and person of Jesus to be our tutor and then seven paragraphs describing character qualities of Jesus Christ that a person could expect to have realized in their own life as they allow him to mentor them in the life of discipleship.

As a church we decided to preach a series of sermons based on this rule.  This inspired me to write the daily devotional, The Mentored Life, a guide to living and loving like Jesus, so that our church community could, as a whole, put into practice the teaching we received from the pulpit on Sunday.

The Mentored Life was well received and people wanted further exposure to the means of grace introduced in the rule and the devotional.  So I wrote a study guide that used both Old and New Testament narratives to support and teach the principles described in the original Mentored Life rule.

Since its creation in 2005 the daily devotional has had 4 publications.  7000 copies of it have been printed and distributed to individuals and churches around the world, all who have heard of it through word of mouth.  Many people use the guide as their personal devotional.  Several churches have used the curriculum as their primary discipleship tool.  While living in Paris, France and attending an International church, I taught this material to people from every continent; Europeans, Asians, Africans, Australians and North and South Americans all found it relevant and respectful of their cultures and mindsets.

The Mentored Life is not about Western Christianity, it is not about doctrine, it is not about any particular church denomination.  Its purpose is to ground believers in the truth of whom we are, in whom we trust, and in what we hope.  It is a kind and gracious invitation to a life of discipleship.   With each reading of the rule, new insight is gained; like the Bible, as you mature spiritually, the Mentored Life meets your deeper, more mature spiritual need.

This is an organic, grass roots movement.  It harkens to the simplicity of Thomas a Kempis’ THE IMITATION OF CHRIST.  It is easily understood and allows one to immediately apply practices of the spiritual life while allowing mind and heart to receive the instruction and the encouragement of God’s word.  It is the product of my spiritual formation by the likes of Dallas Willard, St. Ignatius, Hannah Whittall Smith, George MacDonald and obviously, St. Benedict.

The Mentored Life’s audience is for the one who has decided to follow Jesus and needs guidance in order to do so.

The Mentored Life Rule

Prologue

In order to learn to live and love like Jesus we must apprentice our lives to the mentorship of Jesus.

This mentored life is possible because God’s good and just love has been given to you in Jesus Christ; you are supplied with every resource, released from every captivity, able to see all things in the light of God’s love. You experience every wrong made right and you know your true identity (Luke 4:18,19).

Because of this new life born in you, you have the power to be like Jesus in every way. You are called to live and love like Jesus.

Like Jesus, you are the chosen and beloved child of God (Identity). You enter freely and joyfully this mentored life (Volition). You trust the whole of your life to God’s good and faithful love (Trust). You live to show the greatness and the nearness of God and God’s Kingdom (Purpose). You belong to the community of God’s gathered, your life is not your own (Humility). You serve others because you know you belong to God (Hospitality). You live to die, knowing that obedience unto death brings life (Obedience).

Concerning Your Identity

You are made by God and you are called good. You are made in the likeness of God and you reflect God’s image. Although this image has been distorted through sin done by you and to you, God has not forgotten who you are and whom God made you to be. God knew you before you were born, named you before you were even formed in your mother’s womb. In love, God has chosen you and the Holy Spirit works ceaselessly to restore the unique God-image you alone can reflect.

Concerning Your Volition

You must choose to submit to this mentorship. It is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute choosing of God and God’s community. Love alone can draw you toward this submission. As your love for God grows, you will desire to have the character of Jesus formed in your life. You will ask God to transform your inner person so that you are more and more able to live and love as Jesus did. This transformation will result in the fruit of the Spirit being produced in your life. You will be marked by the peace and joy that comes from abiding in Jesus and Jesus abiding in you.

Concerning Your Trust

As you know God better through study and observation, as your faith tests God’s faithfulness through life’s trials and experiences, you will learn that God is indeed good. God’s presence will be your constant companion and comfort. You will be convinced that God can use all things that enter your life for your benefit. All will be redeemed. Nothing will be able to separate you from the love of God. No thing will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus. You will come to prefer the nearness and awareness of God over the comfort and pleasures of the world.

Concerning Your Purpose

You have joined the greatest cause, advancing the rule and reign of God in lives and in the earth. God asks you to live your everyday life, with your everyday requirements and rhythms, in the knowledge and realization that you are actually a citizen of heaven and a co-heir with Jesus. This kingdom perspective will transform your world. There are no longer any ordinary tasks, conversations or encounters. Every moment is an opportunity to live in the reality and the authority of God-with-you. As you walk through your day, you will bring the presence of God to everything you do and everyone you meet. Additionally, God will be present to you, hidden in every exchange. This is your eternal destiny. It begins now.

Concerning Your Humility

When you know you are absolutely accepted and valued for whom you are, not what you do, you are truly free. When you believe that all is God’s gift, you are truly free. When you know, with your whole being, that there is nothing hidden from God’s knowledge of you, and this knowledge does not alienate or shame, you are truly free. Free to not expect more of yourself than God does, free to admit your mistakes because you know that an error does not change your value, free to serve one another because you know God will not let you be without what you need, free to exercise your talents and gifts for the glory of God and the encouragement of God’s body. This freedom allows humility and humility builds community. In your community, you will serve and be served, give and be given unto, know others and be known by others, love and be loved.

Concerning Your Hospitality

God will ask you to offer generous and genuine welcome to all. All: friends, strangers and self alike. This will require of you an open heart, home, schedule and wallet. It will give you eyes to see those in the periphery of your family, the community, the city and the world. In some manner, all of us live in the margins, hospitality will widen the circle to include all God’s loved ones. You are able to reach out in love to all because God has reached out in love to include you.

Concerning Your Obedience

God’s instructions given through the living Word and the Holy Spirit are the handrails along the path of your life. Heeding them will guide you into life and keep you from danger. God only asks you to give up or avoid the things that will bring you destruction and harm. Letting these go may be difficult for you. It will feel like a death. But with every death you choose, God promises a resurrection into joy. Obedience leads to life. So obey without delay.

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5 thoughts on “The Rule

  1. Debbie,
    My soul is quenched at the words He spoke through you. Thank you for continuing to be a vessel that is open, pliable and usable. It effects so many of us. I pray that He would continue to pour into you daily.

    In Him,

    Judy Strickler
    (We met near Santa Barbara at a women’s retreat a couple of years ago that you and Linda Tarman facillitated)

  2. I popped over from Micha Boyett…I absolutely love this…every word…this speaks my heart for life…personally and in the Body. I am going to share this with my husband. blessings to you~

  3. Hello Debbie! About 8 years ago I encountered a little spiral-bound book entitled “the mentored life: a guide for living and loving like Jesus” as a college counselor at a Christian summer camp. Discipling a young woman at the moment, I would like to know how I might obtain several copies of the same book for our times of study together? 3rd edition 2006 or something similar?

  4. Pingback: A sure way to get where you are headed! – The Mentored Life

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