Finding Your Word
by: Michael Woods | December 27, 2020
A lot of people don’t like New Year resolutions. I get it because I’ve “been there; done that” and for most of us, they usually don’t work for a number of reasons:
- We usually make too many of them and they’re often too hard to keep.
- They’re hard to keep because we try to achieve them on our own strength.
- And they’re easy to forget about.
That’s why at First Orlando we start each year by choosing one word.
- One word is simple.
- One word is easy to remember.
- Caution: one word may be unpredictable in the direction God wants to take you.
You’re going to love the process of choosing your one word for the year because it will keep you focused and it will leave you feeling more connected to God and satisfied with the life He wants for you.
Picking your one word for the year will encourage you to channel your hopes and goals for an entire year into a single word.
STEP ONE: Pray
Find some quiet time to come before the Lord and ask yourself this question:
“What kind of person do You want me to become this year?”
There are two benefits to asking this question. One, it keeps you from getting stuck in the past and helps you focus on the future. It’s important that your one word keeps you moving spiritually forward by thinking of the type of person Jesus wants you to become this year rather than looking back at who you weren’t last year.
The second benefit of asking this question is that it keeps you focused on positive, Christ-like behaviors or characteristics rather than negative behaviors or characteristics. Instead of focusing on “who I am not”, this word will help you consider “who the Lord wants me to be.”
Scripture encourages us to focus on the positive and who Christ wants us to be:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
So, here’s your homework: carve out some quiet time today, pray, and ask yourself this question: “What kind of person does Jesus want to become this year?” and begin to write down what God lays on your heart.
STEP TWO: Make a List
Describe the characteristics of the kind of person that Jesus wants you to become. And then make a list of words based on these characteristics.
Note: a characteristic is, “A distinguishing feature or attribute of a person.” More specifically when we are talking about personality characteristics we are talking about the different traits that a person has that defines who they are as an individual.
Let’s use my own journey to discover my word as an example of Step One and Step Two.
In Step One when I answered the question, “What kind of person does Jesus want me to become this year?” My answer was, “He wants me to become someone who prioritizes time with Him every day.”
So for Step Two here are some of the characteristics that I described for the person that He wants to become:
• Someone who makes my own schedule and priorities secondary to His.
• Someone who is aware of how much time that I have spent with God, if any, at any time during the day.
• Someone who desires to sit at the Lord’s feet rather than being busy (think Mary not Martha).
• Someone who sees time with God as more important than other things.
• Someone who chooses to do what God wants me to do rather than what I want to do in the moment.
• Someone who desires to be in God’s presence regularly.
Here’s my list of words that I came up with to describe these characteristics:
I think that you get the idea.
Your homework for today is to grab a piece of paper or a notebook and make a list of the characteristics of the person Jesus wants you to become.
After you make a list of characteristics, then you need to make a list of words that describe those characteristics just like I did in my example above.
Come up with a list of as many words that you can.
And remember, don’t let negative thinking become an obstacle (“I could never be like that!”).
Focus on the future and on positive characteristics.
STEP THREE: Narrow it Down
Here’s the sequence you should follow:
a. Find some quiet time and bring your list before the Lord in prayer. Ask Him for guidance and to begin to show you the word that He wants to grow and mature you for 2021.
b. Begin to edit your list and mark off the words that don’t resonate strongly with you right now. Continue to bring your list before the Lord and every time that you do mark off more words until you get your list down to 10 words or less.
c. Now that you have your list down to 10 words or less begin to research them. Look each word up in a dictionary and write down its definition. You can also write down a few synonyms for each word if that helps you.
d. Next, look up each word in your Bible. A Bible dictionary or Bible concordance will be very useful for this step. Here is a good link where you can do this online. Make sure that you write down anything that stands out to you.
e. When you’re finished bring this list before the Lord again in prayer. Pray and ask God to give you clarity over which word that He would have you choose.
Once you’ve completed this you should be prepared to move on to the next step which we’ll talk about tomorrow! Until then I want to thank you for your faithfulness in this process and encourage you to stick with it. It will be well worth it!
Finding Your Word – Step Four
Congratulations, today is the day that you select your word for 2019! You’re almost there! If you didn’t get a chance to read Step Three you can click here.
Here’s what you’ve done so far:
• Prayed about your word.
• Given thought about your word.
• Written down a list of potential words.
• Researched those words.
• Narrowed down your list of words to 10 or less.
Now that you’ve completed these things you’re ready for Step Four:
Choose one word from your list to be your word for the year.
To be honest, I kind of got stuck at this step. My list of potential words included: dwell, abide, connect, prioritize, order, focus, and emphasize. I loved all of the words and felt like each one was a good fit for what God to accomplish in me.
I knew that I needed to select one word. But which one? What if I picked the wrong word? Oh no. Now what?
Perhaps you’re feeling the same. You have a list of some great words. Any one of your words is a word that reflects a potential area of growth that would be beneficial. Any one of your words is a word that God could use to mature your faith and character.
Here’s the answer that I found that reduced my anxiety and will likely help you too. I discovered it on p.49 of the book My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. Here’s what they shared:
“You might worry about picking the ‘exact’ right word. Or picking the wrong word ‘God intends’ for you. Don’t stress…God is honored (no matter what) by your faith in him to effect change through this process.”
So take a step of faith and chose your word. Know that God will use your word and your faith in Him to bring about Christ-like changes in your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors for this year.
Share your word with your family, friends, and/or Life Group! The more you share it with people the more accountability you build for this coming year. And if you’re willing, we’d love to know what your word is too. Share it with us!