What’s your word? Do you have a word yet? Some of my Facebook friends want to know.
There are so many good ones out there. Maybe FEARLESS. How about GRACE? We could all use some FORGIVENESS or PATIENCE. In my on life I continue to come back to PEACE and SHALOM.
See, there has been what I guess we could call a “movement” in some circles to do away with the standard New Years Resolutions where we make a list of all the the things wrong with our lives and we commit, wholeheartedly, to tackle them all starting on January 1st so that this year can be a new and improved version of last year and we can end it with a new and improved version of ourselves. I know that New Years Resolutions have kind of gone out of favor among my friends and family, but there are still folks who are all about them; they take them seriously.
However, there are some problems with this process, of course. To think that we can change 5 to 10 habits or life-skills all at once is wishful thinking. If they are big enough to be resolutions, they are each big enough to take some attention, some time, some effort. That can be a lot of change all at once. But, more, we tend to not have much resolve when it comes to resolutions. And when the going gets tough–when we skip a day of exercising or fail to record an item in our brand new budgeting software or oversleep our 5 AM alarm which we had promised not to do–we are ready to throw in the towel. Most folks, it seems, have forgotten their resolutions by the time Valentines Day rolls around a little over a month into the new year.
So, the theory goes, what if you focused on JUST ONE WORD for the year?
From a Christian side of things, what if you envisioned the person you want to become or the person you think God wants you to be to begin with and work from there? Once you have a sense of what it is you want to become, then you can think of the characteristics, the traits, the life skills that come with being that kind of person. Then you find one word, JUST ONE WORD, to focus on, to think about, to pray over, and to offer to God…allowing God to work in you as you live into that one word in your life. And you give God the time, the whole year, to make the changes.
I’ve not done this…not yet.
I think it’s pretty cool though and is why our two churches will be making their way through Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen’s book, My One Word, to start off the year. The book’s website says the following:
Our resolutions seldom work because they are based on the type of person we’re tired of being rather than who God wants us to become. Plus, resolutions can be “broken,” leaving no room for the process of growth. What if our hopes for the year ahead centered instead on who God wants us to become, and the transformation process?
It’s okay to want to be a better you, and the New Year is a natural time to start. The question is, how? My One Word replaces broken promises with a vision for real change. When you choose a single word, you have a clarity and focus. You are moving toward the future rather than swearing off the past.
That sounds all very appealing to me. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me…my “word.”
But, as I was looking over the material and browsing Amazon for resources and planning to present this to our congregations, I wondered, “WHAT IF OUR CHURCHES HAD ONE WORD?” Each year we set some goals and vision statements and priorities. And, most years, in most churches, I bet the list is long forgotten by the time Valentines Day rolls around…about the same time as many personal New Years resolutions have been trashed. What if, instead, we just had one word, one theme, one vision to focus on? We could look up scriptural references for it. We could do a sermon series. We could have visuals for the congregation as they walked out of the door into the world. We could have quotes in bulletins. And when we gathered together we could have a real focus of our prayer–one thing to pray about and ask God’s guidance for.
This past Sunday was Epiphany Sunday and I suggested that, in the spirit of Epiphany and manifestation and a “light to the nations” we could focus on LIGHT this year. The scripture references are wonderful. If this were our focus we could engage in questions like, “What does it mean to be a LIGHT to those around us?” and “What are the dark places of our community where the LIGHT of Christ is needed. We could ask at our meetings how this or that action we voted on was a LIGHT to the world. We could pray for the light of Christ to shine in our lives, we could sing “Shine, Jesus, Shine” and “This Little Light of Mine.” We could make banners…. We…
Anyway, it could be cool.
And, let’s face it, there are lots of other cool words we could focus on. Sure, we could focus on JESUS but Jesus is a pretty broad word. How about GRACE or SHALOM or CREATION or ATONEMENT or WORD? There are countless options.
I don’t know how we’re going to live into all of this. I’m not sure if my unilateral decision to suggest LIGHT is going to stick. And I’m not sure how this is going to play out on the personal level.
But I’m game for a little focus to my year, for myself, and for the churches I serve.
What’s your word?
And while you’re thinking of your word, enjoy a little “Shine, Jesus, Shine.”