Not Living by Other People's Rules



Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by life that you shut down and have a hard time making decisions? Or maybe you find yourself in circumstances that drain your energy and put you in a prolonged poor mood? The truth is, life isn’t always perfect and sometimes we aren’t the best versions of ourselves. And the even greater truth is that we can arm ourselves with tools so that when we find ourselves in rough waters, we still stay true to who God has called us to be!

Years ago, I read a book about the life of Benjamin Franklin. The author recounted that Franklin decided who he wanted to be early in his life, and he wrote 13 virtues to guide all of his decisions so that he would become that person. What a person of intention!

Benjamin Franklin didn’t want his emotions, his circumstances or the pressure of pleasing others to determine his destiny, define his personhood or dictate his legacy. As you can imagine, I was so inspired by the idea that I could live out of my virtues instead of living from the circumstances of my life. So much so that I wrote my own virtue list. The process of envisioning who I was created and called to be and then writing down the virtues that would enable me to become that person was so exciting.



Here are a few of my own—maybe they will help to inspire you also:

1. I will serve God first and honor Him always, both in life and in death.

2. I will be honest, loyal, trustworthy and a man of my word, no matter what the price.

3. I will keep my values, regardless of how much they cost me, and if I fail, I will be quick to repent.

4. I will treat all people with respect, whether they are friend or foe, because they were created in God’s image.

5. I will strive to love everyone, despite their opinions, attitudes or persuasions and in spite of how they treat me.

6. I will be loyal to my wife, both in thought and deed into eternity.

7. I will live to bless and empower the generations to come and leave an inheritance both in the Spirit and in the natural for three generations.

8. I will never work for money or sell myself at any price. I will only be motivated to do what I believe to be the right thing and receive my sustenance from God. I vow to be generous no matter what my circumstances may be.

9. I will live my life to bring out the best in people and to bring them into an encounter with the real and living God.

Virtues help us to live from the inside out instead of from the outside in. No longer do I live by other people’s rules. Instead, I live by values that guide my attitudes, which in turn determine my choices. Choices dictate my behavior. My behaviors become manifestations of my personhood, and my personhood leads me into my destiny.

Do you have a list of virtues that you live from? If not, I’d encourage you to take some time and write them down. I think you’ll actually have a lot of fun doing it and will probably be more inspired into actualizing your calling than you were before! I’d love to hear a few of your virtues in the comments below!

Originally published on