Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year: One Word

Just after the first of the year, the words started popping up on my Facebook and Instagram. Just one word to share what my friends, colleagues, and family members were going to intentionally focus on in the coming year.

I love this idea. I’m starting this new year with a whole lot of new – new appointment, new church, new house, new routine, new role, new people – so the first sermon series I’m offering is about new year’s resolutions for Christians. It’s really good for us to set goals, but so many times our new year’s resolutions become an unfortunate avenue for our negative self-talk by trying to push ourselves into becoming the people we think we should be. I hope I’m offering something life-giving as we talk about recognizing Jesus, embracing our baptism, living the life, etc.

But I kept coming back to this one word idea. Looking for its origin, I found a couple of websites: One Word 365 and My One Word. So maybe not a completely a new idea, but another thing that is new to me. I liked how One Word 365 said it:

“Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway. Choose just one word. One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long. It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps. Discover the big impact one word can make.”

Honestly, I want God to be my compass, but there is power in words. So I prayed. For days. I asked God what I would need in the year ahead, how I might grow, who I might become with all the opportunities and challenges ahead. This scripture passage kept me company in the incubation:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, 
and do not return there until they have watered the earth, 
making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; 
it shall not return to me empty, 
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, 
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)

This is my word:

I will check in on how this one word guides me this year. I invite you to consider finding your own word. There aren’t any fancy rules. The word doesn’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. It can be simple, it can be another language, it can be an action, a thought, or an emotion. But spend time in prayer, find the word that God is speaking into your life, the one that will not return empty, but accomplish what God has in mind.