Faithful gym-goers know that with the new year comes crowded treadmills, weight stations and cardio-classes. Why? People make new year resolutions and among the favorites is losing weight. Those resolutions result in increased gym attendance. Those same faithful gym-goers know that about the third or fourth week of January the crowds will dwindle. Why? The enthusiasm for change wanes and people abandon their resolutions.
I suggest that during 2021 you prioritize internal or character change above all other change. Being conformed to the image of Jesus should be a priority and involves change. “For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29 HCSB). Paul’s expectation for his readers was internal or character change. “You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24). From the beginning, God’s priority for Christ-followers was spiritual transformation. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
Could there be a better way to see genuine change happen in your life than personal resolutions? Yes. However, the issue may be focus more that desire. One sage suggested that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Incremental change is the key to significant overall change.
A couple of years ago, a friend introduced me to the idea of choosing one word for an entire year and viewing the events of that year through the lens of that word. She chose the word trust. As her year unfolded, everything that happened was viewed through the lens of trusting God. She lost her job — trust. Finances became tight — trust. Other situations unfolded that dramatically affected her life — trust.
As she regularly read the Bible, she noticed how often God instructed His people to trust Him. She was very sensitive each time her pastor spoke on the subject of trust or mentioned it in sermons. Songs seemed to echo the principle of trust, and conversations trended toward trust. God wanted to teach her to truly trust Him that year. It positively affected her spiritual life and her relationship with God. That year was spiritually life-changing.
As the new year approaches, consider not making new year resolutions, but instead, choosing the one-word approach to change. For some practical assistance, visit myoneword.org, which is maintained by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olson. There, you will find many practical helps to move you along your One Word journey.
Here is a synopsis of the plan:
• Step #1 — Determine the kind of person you want to become or the area of change you need to see change the most.
• Step #2 — Identify the characteristics of that person or characteristics needed in your focus area of change.
• Step #3 — Pick a word from the list of characteristics. You may be tempted to choose more than one, but one is all on which you should focus. Don’t rush this step. Spend some time talking it over with God. Let Him bring that word to the forefront of your thinking.
How can I make my One Word journey successful?
• Tell someone what your word is and ask him/her to keep you accountable.
• Keep a journal of events throughout the year focusing on your One Word experiences.
• Periodically, take a few minutes to review and reflect on what God has taught you up to that point.
Remember, change is only one word away.