I was taught that grace builds on nature. In other words, God tends to use us according to our natural abilities and inclinations. Now, the first thing people want to point out is the exceptions to this rule. Yes, there are times when a person is asked (and empowered) to do amazing things or things contrary to their natural desires. But that is an exception, not the norm.
Each of us is blessed with a certain skill set. We have a personality and character. Last week I wrote about the healing ministry. I shared there that St. Paul believed that the charism of healing is not given to everyone to the same extent. So it is helpful to do an inventory of your gifts. There are many assessment tools available. Simply ask a few people who know you well what they think, that is a good starting place. Also, a good personality test is also helpful. The book, "Please Understand Me II" is one which I have found most helpful. There are dozens of others as well.
My personality is either a teacher or a counselor. My life as a priest has usually centered around bible studies, Sunday school and many hours of counseling. I am probably of most use to God and His kingdom in this kind of role. My rule of life should reflect this.
The rule of life (to borrow from St. Benedict) should center on Prayer, Study and Work. I would further subdivide work as in-reach and out-reach. This would cover both service and evangelism. But our work shapes the type of prayer and study we do. Our work impacts how we serve those in need and how we proclaim good news. Then our prayer and study will shape the way we do our work.
So the first step in our rule of life is to answer these questions:
Who am I? What gifts and talents do others see in me? What interests do I have? What am I drawn to do with my time, my talent and my treasure?
We live in a big world with lots of fertile territory. Jesus once said, "The harvest is plentiful, but laborers are few." Our rule of life aims to address Jesus' concern. It is our first step in becoming an effective laborer. A rule of life reflects our vision of our life as a disciple. It is important because God takes our lives seriously. A rule of life helps us to live consciously and intentionally. A rule of life keeps us on the way.