If someone were to ask you about the principles that govern your life, how would you answer? One dictionary defines ‘principles’ as “fundamental truths or propositions that serve as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.” In other words, principles represent the line of thinking that we will structure our lives around and establish as our foundations for living out life.
Several years ago, now, I was introduced to a set of guiding principles that I’ve tried to establish as foundational truths for my life; priorities to live by … and shortened with an acronym: W.I.F.E. The WIFE principles.
Those letters could stand for a lot of things. For example, one organization uses WIFE as their sort of ‘moniker: The Women’s Institute for Financial Education. Another uses those letters to identify Women Involved in Farm Economics. But those acronyms don’t represent ‘principles for living.’ They identify organizations or individuals or groups. For me, the W.I.F.E. principles are a touchstone for living, an easy reminder that I can return to when life gets fuzzy, or harried, or just plain nuts.
Jesus finished his Sermon on the Mount with these words:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matt. 7:24-27)
The W.I.F.E. principles help me maintain my focus and direction in life. They help me at a very foundational level to establish first-things-first, and build on the essence of what truths are most important as I live my life every day. You might say those four principles represent the ‘bedrock’ Jesus was referring to in the Sermon on the Mount. The W.I.F.E. principles, then:
W stands for Worship, and I define worship as me telling God who He is. I have determined that the worship of God will be foundational to all other activities in my life, and telling God who He is will be a hallmark I will strive for in my life.
The I stands for Instruction, and I define instruction as God telling me who He is, through the reading of His word, and the teaching I receive from others. In order for me to be a good student in that regard, I must hone the skill of listening well, as God tells me who He is, and as I learn from Him.
The F of the W.I.F.E. principles stands for fellowship, and the activity of engaging other believers as we tell each other who God is. One of the primary reasons we gather in God’s house is to not only Worship (telling God who He is) and Instruction (listening to God tell us who He is by revealing His word to our hearts). Fellowship with other believers is vitally important to my growth and spiritual health, as I hear testimonies and see the faithfulness of God in the lives of those I am in community with. Fellowship is us telling each other who God is.
And the E of the W.I.F.E. principles stands for Evangelism, or “expression,” as I tell the world who God is. No light hidden on a hill. No salt that has lost its flavor. Evangelism will not be an event; it will become a lifestyle of telling the world all around me about the grace of God. Evangelism is me telling the world who God is.
You may already have a wonderful and well-thought-out set of principles for guiding your life. If so, I’d love to hear from you about what those are. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you haven’t identified specific principles you want to live by? Feel free to borrow The W.I.F.E. principles.
Worship: Me telling God who He is.
Instruction: God telling me who He is.
Fellowship: Believers telling one another who God is.
Evangelism: Believers telling the world who God is.