Just after the first of the year, words started popping up on my social media. Single words shared what my friends, colleagues, and family members were going to focus on in 2014. I embraced the idea since this year brought a whole lot of new to my life – new church, new home, new role, new people. And every new beginning gives the opportunity to grow into who we’d like to become.
Looking for the origin of this idea, I found One Word 365 and MyOne Word. One Word 365 said: “Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals. 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.”
God is my compass, but I also know the power of words to shape us and the world we live in. After all, God called creation into being through the Word. So I prayed, asking God what I would need in the year ahead, how I might grow, who I might become with all the opportunities and challenges ahead.
COURAGE is my word for 2014. You can read the original post about that here. This is the word God is speaking into my life that I’m confident will not return empty, but accomplish what God has in mind (see Isaiah 55:11).
This all came to mind because our church is in the midst of our Disciple’s Eleven series. God’s revelation to us is not just a story about a divine being, but about divine love and God’s desire for relationship with us. To live healthy, whole lives as disciples, we need relationships!
Last Sunday we talked about Barnabas, the son of encouragement. En-courage-ment. Courage - from the Middle English corage, equivalent to the Old French cuer which means heart. If courage is to have heart, then encouragement is to put heart back into someone when life has left them battered, bruised, and bleeding. If I am to have courage, then I also need a Barnabas (or ten) who encourage me, who slap me on the back and make me take a breath when I’ve stopped breathing deeply in the Spirit.
This next Sunday, we’ll talk about Peter and Paul, focusing on how we all need a Yoda. Yoda is, of course, the Jedi master and teacher of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker from Star Wars.
For Christians, we see this principle in Peter and Paul as they become mentors, coaches, and spiritual teachers for the fledgling church. We need people to look up to – wiser, God-energized guides who help us find our way through challenges that aren’t for faint hearts or weak stomachs.
One way I’ve seen courage playing out in my life this year is in my search for Peters/Pauls. In my new role, I’ve realized how much I don’t know about tax code, electrical systems, and so many other things. And although it sometimes stings my pride or makes me shove things around in an overloaded calendar, I’ve sought out mentors.
In a culture that glorifies busy and hurry, it’s hard to have the patience of presence to allow the gradual work of learning to occur. A lot of life is just osmosis as we soak up wisdom and experience simply by being with another. Osmosis was how protégés like Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Erastus, Epaphras, Silas, Luke, John Mark, and others learned from Paul. They traveled with him, watched what he did, and then were given their own assignments to see how well they were developing their potential.
In another church I served, the senior pastor gave this blessing to each baptized person, “(Name), your church loves you. We make this vow in your presence, to surround you in steadfast love. Who you are is God’s gift to you. Who you become is your gift to God. Amen.” I always found it such a succinct, beautiful summary of life. Spending time with our Peters/Pauls helps us grow into the gift we ultimately offer to God. And that takes some courage.