What a difference a word makes

Have you chosen a word for 2023?

Some people consider the one word concept as a challenge, a hyper-focused path toward an overall goal.

For me, choosing one word for the year is more spiritually minded than simply chasing a desired outcome. I usually don’t have a lot of control over my one word because I feel it’s God doing the choosing. I’ve always thought He chooses one word for me because that will be the direction He leads me. Usually, when I realize what the word is, I’m a little puzzled. But by the end of the year, God has shown me why that particular word has significance in my life.

My word, and the verse I choose to go along with that word, is personal. It has a lot to do with where I’ve been and where God wants me to go.

Several years ago, after hearing multiple people refer to their word for the year, I chose one for myself and liked the way I saw God using it in my life. I’ve kept up the practice. There are some years where my word motivated me to be purposeful., One year, I forgot about it. Why? Because I think I kind of lost sight of myself. My days didn’t feel as intentional as I would have liked. I felt myself more in reaction mode than anything else, and that’s a lousy place to be. But once in that cycle, it’s hard to stop.

Until something causes you to put on the brakes. That happened to me just this week.

I realized that my word for 2022 had an enormous impact on my actions. But the thing is, I couldn’t even remember what the word was until I looked back at my calendar to find it. There, written alongside the verse I’d selected for the year, was the word, TELL.

“Go back to your home, and tell all that God has done for you.”

Luke 8:39

I sat back for a moment and thought about the word TELL, especially within the context of my verse. That’s when it hit me. Though I’d forgotten my word, God still used it to show me His intentions. How? I launched my author’s newsletter, where I tell my readers about my life and my writing journey. A newsletter is a sure way to tell all that God has done for you.

Just because I’d lost my way didn’t mean God wouldn’t bring my word to reality.

So how do we choose just one word with a corresponding verse?

  1. Examine the past year. Look at your calendar, journals, and photos. Is there something you think God wants you to work on?
  2. Pray. Ask the Lord to reveal what He wants for you this year, and what word will best show that. Usually, by the time I get around to asking God to show it, the word has been on my radar for a while. But because God is often subtle, it takes a little while for it to set in.
  3. Write. Record your word in a place easy to access, like the front of your yearly calendar. List some synonyms that will broaden the meaning.
  4. Choose a verse. Not just any verse, but the right verse. It might be an under the radar kind of verse, but it makes sense in the context of the Bible passage as relating to your word and you can’t get it off your mind, it just might be the verse God wants you to apply to your life this year.
  5. Display your word and verse. Put them in a prominent place, easily seen. Index cards, graphics to put on the wall, or even your computer or phone’s wallpaper.

This activity allows us to practice listening to God. He will let you know when you arrive at the word He wants for you, along with the specific verse.

Pray that you will follow where He leads through this one word and one verse. And to make sure it stays on your mind, post your word and verse where you see it often. Meditate on it often and allow God to use it in your life in surprising and awesome ways.

My words and verses over the last six years:

2018: Tenacious, Hebrews 10:23

2019: Trust, Proverbs 3:5,6

2020: Believe, 2 Corinthians 4:13

2021: Run, Hebrews 12:1

2022: Tell, Luke 8:39

2023: Thankful, Colossians 4:2

What do you think about choosing your own word and verse? Have you done it before?