For the last several years I have replaced the idea of New Year’s Resolutions with a focus on one single idea – my one word to help frame the kind of direction I sense the Lord leading me to steer my life toward in the coming year. Previous ideas for My One Word have included Finish, Lean, and One. What’s interesting is that those ideas are still, to one degree or another, relevant and a part of my soul’s DNA.
Last year the theme was Advance! You can read more about that here. And let me just say, advance I did! On three fronts in particular, 2015 represented major moves forward, mostly in areas of ministry and career development.
One really good thing that arose out of that has been the establishment of LifeVesting International – a mission organization designed to mobilize the church to multiply the Church. We are launching our first series of trips this year to Thailand, and I am thrilled to see where that is going.
May I just say, however, that by the end of the year, I was about advanced out. Frankly, I started the year not nearly as enthusiastic about the One Word idea as I had in previous years. And in terms of what the One Word would actually be, there was nothing really compelling or inspiring.
I thought about the word “READ” because every year at this time I get inspired to read more.
That deafening sound you hear of silence… or crickets… yeah, that’s about how much enthusiasm and passion that idea generated.
But to this point – a few days into January – there was nothing compelling.
And that may actually be the point.
I ended up December being completely fried. I had way over-committed myself late in the year, and I was spent. So following a year of Advance! the temptation was to make this year’s word “RETREAT! FAST!” Or how about HIBERNATE!
But that defeats the point of the previous idea of advancing. I don’t need to go backwards, but to strengthen, refresh, and reawaken myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. This would certainly incorporate the previous idea of “READ,” but go much further.
I need renewal. Not as a one-time experience – this isn’t a vacation I’m referring to, but renewal as a lifestyle. And so that’s my One Word for 2016: Renew!
Still not time for backing down or a trip to the porch. There are definitely more advances to be made. But as they say in football, it’s possible to out-punt your coverage. And so this year I’m focusing on being the kind of man, Christ follower, husband, leader, and communicator who can sustain those kinds of advances and more.
Resuming After an Interruption
The idea of renewing is restarting something after hitting the pause button. That certainly fits coming off the holidays and getting reestablished in the rhythms and routines of life and work. But more than that, it’s time to examine the areas of my life I put on hold or even neglected.
I would invite you to join me.
No, don’t point out the things I’m neglecting! I have plenty of help for that. Check out the relationships or priorities you may be neglecting in your efforts to advance in other areas.
Who needs a phone call? Who needs more of your time and attention? Who needs encouragement or hope?
Renewal is about relationships. For me that certainly has to do first with my relationship with God, but also the other relationships that matter most – my wife, family, and quality friendships.
Renewal also involves deepening other relationships or establishing new ones. So yesterday my brother-in-law invites me to ride with him to a conference where I get to meet some extraordinary servants of Christ (check out their books here, here, and here). I was renewed by the new connections, but even more so by the time spent with my brother-in-law.
That doesn’t happen automatically. I have to choose relationships, and so do you.
Repeating the Good Stuff
New Year’s resolutions don’t just mean starting over from scratch, nor does a focus on My One Word. Sometimes it means hammering away again at the good things – in my case, the advances from last year and before. There are definitely some things to double-down on for this year.
How about you? Where have you “scored” or moved forward? Where do you need to “lather, rinse, and repeat?”
Don’t turn “again” into a bad word. I confess I’ve done that. Who needs our encouragement again? Who needs our expressions of love again? Who needs our forgiveness again? Who needs the expressions of our service or giftedness again? I know it gets old sometimes. That’s what renewal is about – regaining our strength by repeating the things that energize it in the first place.
Restoring Life and Vitality
Renewing means giving new energy or strength to areas of our lives – specifically those areas of my life that are vital, but sagging or tired.
That’s what it means to Renew.
But here’s the marvelous, magical, mystery of renewal, and if you and I don’t get this, we’re headed for an epic face plant:
You can’t renew yourself, and neither can I – and we’re fools to try.
Renewal is the result of reconnecting to your true Power Source. Check this out:
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old, (Lamentations 5:10)
Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16).
The definition of a fool is someone who tries to be his own codependent redeemer, problem solver or source of wisdom and power.
While we can’t renew ourselves, we can position ourselves to receive supernatural strength from the Lord. And that must become a lifestyle, not an emergency response.
Replacing the Broken Pieces
Here it gets a little risky or ugly. Renewal means replacing something that is broken or worn out. That calls for some ruthless evaluation and a willingness to risk letting go of non-productive areas or hindrances. But there may certainly be other things as well – everything needs to be on the table.
One idea for doing this is to borrow from Zappos and General Electric and identify your “bottom 10” – that is the 10% of your life and work that produce the greatest amount of drag or least amount of profitability (however you define that).
The writer of Hebrews talks about that very thing – eliminating the “weights” that drag us down or hold us back – not always “sinful things” (though that would certainly qualify), but unnecessary or non-edifying things. The idea isn’t to remove all recreation (after all, that is a form of renewal) or rest (do we really need to discuss a need for Sabbath?). It is to redeem the time and make the most of your moments by focusing on those things that most energize you. And part of that involves making room for fresh, new sources of life and energy.
So there you have it. My one word for 2016 is Renew! I’d love to hear what yours is. Leave a comment in the space below. My prayer is that at the close of this year, you are more alive than ever. Happy New Year!
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