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What's Your Word for 2020?

December 30, 2019
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I’ve never heard the voice of God. Not audibly. I don’t disbelieve people who tell me they have. There have been many times when I wished for and asked to hear God audibly. But so far, I never have.

This makes a practice I’ve heard a couple of people talk about that I think I want to try (and am going to challenge you to consider) a little problematic. Approaching the first of the year, they ask God to give them a word to lock in their mind for the year ahead. They’re asking for a watchword for the next 12 months. A word that sums up what their best effort should be toward and about.

I think I got my word this morning. No audible voice (again). Just a sense that this word should be my word. It’s (a drum roll, please) ALIGNMENT. I want this on all the levels of my life.

I want my behaviors to align with my fundamental beliefs and values. I want how my life looks to anybody watching to be a transparent window into what I say are my values and beliefs. I want the trust in God that I claim to be reflected in my actual behaviors. I want the value of every person to be seen in how I treat people – even people I disagree with (maybe especially them) – with respect. I want my value of being a true and authentic disciple of Jesus to be seen in how I do my actual life. There’s about a dozen other values that go in this alignment bucket, but you get the picture.

I also want alignment with my talents, gifts and abilities. This has to do with how I apply these things in my life, and how I steward my resources toward them. At this point in my life, they have a direct connect with my career.

For the first time in my adult life, I’m not employed as a minister in a church. This season has put me on an interesting journey in uncharted territory. I believe I’m still “in the ministry,” though I don’t get my paycheck from a church. I’m still in the business of helping people find deep connection with God, and learn how to live out His purposes for them. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing this as long as I’m working in a career. The mission for my counseling practice is, “Helping people find their best life.” That only happens as people discover God’s design for life and begin pursuing it. My role is to help people discover God’s design and to do what I can to encourage them to choose it for themselves. I can’t do this for anybody but myself (which has been a difficult but essential thing to learn), but I can serve as a guide as others make this journey for themselves.

This has been my mission for the 45 years of my ministry career, though I didn’t articulate it this way. My wiring – my spiritual gifts, skills, background and education – sets me up for this. My primary gifts of Mercy and Teaching fit with this. My education has supported it. My basic temperament fits. I’m in my sweet spot when I’mm in a venue for the alignment of these things.

Funny, though. Life doesn’t always support me working from my sweet spot. I’ll bet you know about this. Things like insurance, taxes, rent, utilities, gasoline, car repairs, groceries and a few dozen other things are also in the picture. And they all cost money. If I’m not careful, these things, and the money they cost, fill the whole frame instead of merely being a part of the picture. And this doesn’t even account for the hundreds of demands of being a parent. Those things are HUGE. So huge that you sometimes can hardly see anything else.

That’s why alignment is so important to me. Without alignment, I’ll end up having a lot of activity and spending all my resources without making any significant movement toward the things I say matter most. I’ll lose sight of the picture and get all tied up in the brush strokes.

Balance is a synonym for alignment. If things are aligned, they’ll be balanced. If they’re balanced, they’ll be aligned. But the kind of balance required here is dynamic balance, not static balance.

Static balance is the balance a jeweler’s scales depends on. You put a one-ounce weight on one side of the scales, and one ounce of something on the other, and the scales will settle into balance. This is static balance. It works well with jewels and precious metals, but not so much with life.

Life requires dynamic balance. This is the kind of balance you used when you were a kid and balanced a broomstick in the palm of your hand. To keep the broomstick balanced, you had to keep moving. You maybe only made a tiny movement, but if you stood completely still – if you were static – the broomstick would tip and fall. You kept the broomstick balanced by making constant adjustments. This is the balance life takes. Constant dynamic adjustment.

This kind of dynamic balance and adjustment for alignment in my life requires some significant things. Maybe the most significant thing is discipline. St. Paul and the Holy Spirit call it Self-Control in Galatians 5:23. It’s one of the nine qualities of the Fruit of the Spirit. Without it, there will be nothing but a few isolated moments of accidental alignment.

That it is a quality of the Fruit of the Spirit points to the single most significant things. For me to get my life aligned, and to keep it aligned through the vicissitudes of life, I must have divine intervention. As in the work of the Holy Spirit, producing His fruit in my life as I cooperate with Him.

Alignment may not be the word for you for 2020. Even if the idea of it is right for you, you might say it differently, and probably better than this. But if you don’t have a focus for the year ahead, you’ll end up spending your resources on whatever screams the loudest, shines the brightest, or your boss tells you is most important. And that may not put you where you want to be on January 1, 2021.

Here’s my challenge. Ask God to give you a word for 2020. And then listen for Him to give it to you. If you hear His voice audibly, that would be fantastic. But if you simply get a strong impression, that’s equally great. If you only get a subtle prompting, that, too, is worthy. The point is, when you sense you have your word, prioritize how you steward your resources around that word, and then see how God will direct your path in the year ahead.

I’m not making any guarantees that doing this will make you healthy, wealthy and wise. But I’ll promise you that if your word is really from Him, pursuing it in 2020 will draw you more deeply into His design. And that will be awesome in the truest sense of the word.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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