Know Your Word

New Perspective on Resolutions Series

Across the street from me, I am told, there used to be an orchard. Now a beautiful log home sits surrounded by apple trees of all sorts and varieties. The beauty of the flowers that fill those trees in the spring can hardly be matched! The fruit that follows the flowers is delicious and I am thankful for the neighbors who willing share what their trees have produced.

We are a lot like those apple trees.

Last week I encouraged you to set goals that wouldn’t be empty when you accomplished them. Focusing instead on things that build your character; “Fruits of the Spirit” as they are called in Galatians 5. We want to grow fruit, so let’s look at the apple tree.

Apples grow on the branches of the tree because they are connected to the trunk and roots of the tree. They are fed and nurtured through what they are getting as they stay connected to the tree. The branch does not produce fruit, the trunk does the work, the branch simply bears (shows) the fruit of the work that the trunk is doing.

John 15:4-5 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

This concept of ‘abiding’ is the foundation for a radically different approach to goal setting. A method that I have found more success with than any other process I have tried before. Here is the main direction for this method…

Pick One Word

That’s it…only one word. Throw all your New Year’s resolutions out the window and focus on one word.

Three years ago I read about this idea in Mike Ashcraft’s book, My One Word, and it has made the world of difference in my goal setting…especially because I no longer feel like a failure at accomplishing goals.

Pick a word that has to do with the kind of person you want to be. A word that has to do with looking forward, vision, instead of look back, regret. Regret isn’t motivating, a vision is. Regret says, I will not be…this. Vision says, I will be…this. “I will not lose my temper” vs. “I will be someone who recognizes that most the things I feel like are hard, are really just minor inconveniences.”

The first year I chose one word my word was Courage. I was going to be leading my first retreat that year and was just beginning to do things with my business. It all was unknown, scary, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I knew courage was going to be something I needed, so I focused on it and the verse in Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” I needed to have the courage to put myself out there, the courage to fail and the courage to work hard with no guaranteed result.

So I focused on courage. I prayed about it. I studied it. I noticed it in myself and others. And God grew courage in me. To the point that now I put my messy self “out there” every week sharing the lessons I’ve learned about the joys and struggles of growth!


The next year my word was Wisdom. My verse was Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I thought my lessons in Wisdom would head one direction so in the fall when I hadn’t seen any progress made I wondered if I had really grown wiser. However, as I wrote these thoughts down and reflected on the year I realized I had:

  • Recognized sports aren’t the priority for our family that they are for others and I could let go of the ‘left out’ feeling I had for my son not doing all the travel ball his friends did.
  • Grown aware of the fleeting time I have left with my kids and the huge role camping/travel play in how we spend time as a family.
  • Realized how important writing is in my life and that more of my time and energy should be spent heading in that direction.
  • Learned to better understand shame and the consequences it has had in my life.

Wisdom had grown, just not in the ways I had expected it to. It had grown in better ways, deeper ways…ways that spread out into so much more of life than I ever would have dreamed up myself.

For 2016 my word was Sacrifice…my thinking was that I would finally make progress in the areas of food, fitness and finances. My verse was Romans 12:1-3,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Instead of food, fitness and finances…2016 became about learning to sacrifice my ‘shoulds.’ The guilt and confusion created by trying to measure up to all my shoulds was the ‘pattern of this world’ that my mind needed to be renewed from. The one word always becomes about so much more than a resolution ever could be.

What will your word be for 2017? I’d love to hear what you come up with! Please let me know by commenting on our Facebook page under this post.