At first sight, this whole picking a word for the year feels a bit woo-woo or even hokey. Like, what does it even matter? Are we just over-spiritualizing things a bit? If that’s you, I hear ya! But over the last several weeks, I have felt the Lord use this simple exercise to show me so clearly what the Lord wants to grow in me, specifically what He wants to grow in me over the next year.
I had a few other ideas for my word for the year. I was convinced it was going to be persistent. It’s a word that kept coming up and had me excited to get persistent in my faith and understand repetition in a whole new way. But honestly, my word for 2017, Abundant and all the things God has done this year had me rethinking what it may be.
In one day we experienced our biggest day of sales ever for the shop and a big final yes to something I’ve been working on for a year. I should have been on top of the world but I felt a bit numb like I was on autopilot and my only job was to keep moving.
I am a driven person. It can come with a nice slice of accomplishments, but it also comes with a weight that if I’m not constantly doing something productive, then I’m unsatisfied. At night I routinely have this subconscious nagging feeling that I didn’t accomplish everything I could have that day, even if it was as small as reading a few more pages of a book or folding one more load of laundry. I could have done more.
Driven is defined as consumed, directed, forced, herded, pushed, obsessed
There were some definitions I’d consider noble for driven like motivated and ambitious but they were the minority for sure.
I have definitely let the weakness of this personality trait take over my life lately.
In John Ortberg’s book Soul Keeping, he says “to lose my soul means I no longer have a healthy center that organizes and guides my life. I am a car without a steering wheel. It doesn’t matter how fast I can go because I am a crash waiting to happen.”
I don’t want to live driven in such a way that the destination doesn’t matter as long as I’m going and doing. I want to be led by God and not my own ambitions. I want to stop running ahead of God. I want to stop pursuing productive things that aren’t a part of God’s plan. I want to be quiet enough to hear His leading, no matter how gentle it comes. I want to be able to pause long enough to follow the Holy Spirit and not see those things as a waste of time because I’m constantly in a hurry.
I was reading a verse that convinced me “Led (not driven)” was my word/words for the year.
We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger
in the path sign-posted with your decisions.
–Isaiah 26:8 (MSG)
I would not say this describes my current life but I sure want it to. To live content to linger because we are following God’s lead (and He isn’t in a hurry like I can be).
2017 was about realizing the abundant life (Romans 8:15) that Christ’s death gave us. I cannot tell you how much this passage came to life to me over and over again throughout the year.
2018 is about how to live it out.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT YOUR WORD FOR THE YEAR
If you aren’t sure where to start, here a few tips:
1. Pray about it
This will forever and always be one of my tips so just nestle in and get used to hearing me say that! 😉 I have prayed for two months about my word which may be a little excessive, but I love planning for the future year and really there isn’t really a limit to how many prayers God lets me pray so I’m happy to pray for this as much as I think to.
2. Look at what you’re hoping for in 2018
What are your goals? Are there any themes? I wouldn’t say this is the biggest place to look for your word because it’s based on our plans but it does get us thinking. God may have already laid some pretty amazing goals on your heart so your word might be right in front of your eyes.
3. Look for coincidences
Does a certain word keep popping up or a Bible passage keep being shared? Friend, these aren’t coincidences. These are prompts from the Holy Spirit.
4. Look for clues
Connect the dots people! We have to SEEK the Lord and not wait for Him to send us an envelope with our words in sharpie written across a page. I think a lot of times we assume God isn’t talking when I think more than not, we are likely too busy to hear Him. Leave space in your prayers for room for Him to speak and I promise He’ll respond if we give Him the space. Maybe not audibly or in a booming voice. It might be a whisper but the more we slow down, the more we will be in tune to hear it.
5. See what the Bible says
After you have an idea for a word or maybe even a few you’re thinking on, crack open your Bible app and search the word and see what comes up. You’re about to learn way more about my word process than you ever wanted to know. I wrote down the Scripture reference of the ones that were relevant. Then over the next few days, I read each verse in different translations and the verses around it for context. After jotting a few notes, I put a star and wrote out the main point I wanted to remember that I wanted to remember about my word from that passage. Here are a few examples:
“You have trusted in your wickedness and have said, ‘No one sees me.’ Your wisdom and knowledge mislead you when you say to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me.'” – Isaiah 47:10
*What it looks like to be led by myself and not God.
“Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?”- Jeremiah 2:17
* The Lord is leading me. That is not the question. The question is “Will I follow?”
And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. – Luke 21:8
* What things have the look of Christ but can still lead me astray?
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. – Romans 8:14
* What a privilege that the Holy Spirit leads us and that abundant life is even possible! This puts a fire in me to live it out since God makes such a gift available to me!
I hope that is helpful!! Now time to share, already picked your word for the year? Share below!!
Check out Val’s best tips for making real change happen in her book The Finishing School. You’ll get all the best information on goals, habits, margin, prayer and more!
COMING UP NEXT: 2018 Goals
How I use Trello for goal-tracking
I took the DaySpring quiz as a bit of fun and was given the word ‘Simplify’ – I thought the word was apt in reference to my busy life, but didn’t really think any more about it until I asked my husband what he thought my chosen word was. Without hesitation, he replied ‘Balance’. I work too hard, don’t spend enough time with my family and definitely don’t ‘make time’ for God. I don’t sleep well, I’m constantly obsessing over every little thing and trying to be perfect. I feel like I’m on a treadmill, just running and running, but never actually getting anywhere. I am committed this year to simplifying my life, to creating meaningful goals and making time for the things that really matter. I want to walk hand-in hand enjoying this journey with the Lord and not just arrive breathless and exhausted at the finish line. Thank you Val for always sharing your thoughts so honestly and with such clarity – they speak volumes to me and I feel blessed to have discovered your ministry, which is having a profound effect on my spiritual, as well as my physical and emotional life. Every blessing for a ‘well-led’ 2018.
Thank you so much, Hayley! Praying blessings over you today as well. Balance is a great word for this year!!
I love it! Driven! My word phrase for 2018 is “persistently persistent”. Meaning that I will continuously on going in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or whatever life or excuses may come my way!
That’s a great word, Sharon!!
Thanks for this idea, Val, and for all your tips! I especially liked using the Scriptures as a back up for finding and exploring my word. After prayerful reflection, I am confident that my word for 2018 is free! Freedom from the enslavement of fear, doubt and disbelief, because my spirit is free!
That’s awesome!! So excited for your year of freedom!