I don’t watch a lot of television, mostly because I like to read—a lot—but there are some shows that I really do enjoy, and one show that I have followed for years is NCIS. Not the spinoffs in Los Angeles or New Orleans, but the original series in which the Unit leader is a man named Leroy Jethro Gibbs. His coworkers and friends affectionately refer to him simply as Gibbs, and what I really like about his somewhat-stoic character is he is a man of great character. He lives with honesty, integrity, and courage. He is very firm but always fair, tough when need be, but tender when appropriate.

A number of years ago I noticed that his subordinates would occasionally say to a co-worker something like, “remember Gibbs’ rule Number Nine.”  After hearing this a number of times I realized they were making a reference to various rules that Gibbs had developed and by which he lived. I thought to myself, “What a great idea—develop a list of wise habits as my personal rules.”

So, over the past ten or so years I have slowly collected and adapted various “life rules” for myself, and what I have found is that there have been many times when they truly have been very useful. In times of trouble, they have kept me grounded, and they have also helped me out of problematic situations.

I wrote some of the rules hastily, and others somewhat tongue in cheek, but even so, they have proven quite useful. Consider developing your own personal code to live by—a code that expresses your personal commitments, ways of personalizing God’s wisdom and His heart for you. Of course we could come up with hundreds of them, but below are the top fifty I live by. I hope they inspire you.

Gallagher’s Rules:

Rule #1: Love God with your whole heart, mind, and strength. Note: This rule supersedes all other rules.
Rule #2: Show your love for God by loving His people.
Rule #3: Don’t just believe what you’re told. Double check.
Rule #4: Learn to hold confidences confidential.
Rule #5: Keep yourself fit.
Rule #5: Never be unreachable.
Rule #6: Be quick to forgive, slow to trust.
Rule #7: Sometimes you’re wrong. When you are, admit it and move on.
Rule #8: Always say you are sorry when you’ve hurt others
Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife.
Rule #10: Never take anything for granted.
Rule #11: When the job is done, walk away.
Rule #12: Think twice before speaking.
Rule #13: If it is not truthful or kind, then don’t say it.
Rule #14: Control your temper.
Rule #15: Always work as a team.
Rule #16: Remember the most dangerous enemies are those in plain sight.
Rule #17: Take the time to get good intel.
Rule #18: Always count the cost.
Rule #19: Always do the loving thing.
Rule #20: Be specific when you repent, and do it quickly.
Rule #21: Being correct is never an excuse for a violation of form or for being rude.
Rule #22: Never over or underestimate an opponent.
Rule #23: Be merciful.
Rule #24: Defend the weak.
Rule #25: Never tolerate a bully.
Rule #26: Be slow to hire, quick to fire.
Rule #27: If you must hit, strike hard enough so there is no second blow.
Rule #28: If you sit in the chair, do the job.
Rule #29: Never send a kid to do a man’s job.
Rule #30: Be honest and courageous, even if it will harm you.
Rule #31: Always lead from the front.
Rule #32: Never quit a noble task.
Rule #33: Know when to hold them, when to fold them, and when to walk away.
Rule #34: Never attack uphill.
Rule #35: Do your best to choose the ground you fight on.
Rule #36: Never violate another man’s house-rule.
Rule #37: Respect boundaries, including your own.
Rule #38: If it’s your case, it’s your lead.
Rule #39: Live with integrity.
Rule #40: Never harm your partner.
Rule #41: Never try to control or manipulate others.
Rule #42: Control your desires.
Rule #43: Never let suspects stay together.
Rule #44: Save the women and children first.
Rule #45: Defend the weak and less able.
Rule #46: Don’t be crass and coarse.
Rule #47: Always fail forward.
Rule #48: Trust your gut
Rule #49: Clean up your own mess.
Rule #50: Just do the next right thing.