Written by Andrea Stephens
The idea of having a word for the year was first presented to me by my associate pastor’s wife several years ago when I was living in Florida. She was a very intentional and purposeful type of woman, so it made sense that having a special word, and a scripture to go with it, was something she grabbed hold of. But it wasn’t enough that she had a word, she insisted that everyone had a word.
I passed her enthusiasm (and persistence) onto those in my immediate circle. Each of my family members now select a word for the year. I record their word next to their name on my prayer list so that I’m sure to include it when I am lifting them up to the Lord. As the months go by, I’m sure to check-in to see how they are applying and experiencing the use of their word. We talk about whether or not it is making a difference in the way they are living, whether they are remembering to consider their word as they make decisions about the use of their time and how they choose to conduct themselves.
After all, that is the purpose of having a word. It serves as a guide. It serves as a motivator. It serves as a goal. It serves as a reminder of one thing a person wants to change or become or do as they live their life throughout the year. This is why much thought and prayer are put into the selection of a word. In fact, it can become a partnership—something you and the Lord are working on together.
Last year my sister’s word was outreach. As she analyzed her jam-packed schedule, she realized this was missing from her to-do list. Her job, as regional director for a popular cruise line, kept her traveling, planning presentations, and tracking sales numbers. And usually one of her three kids were in mini-meltdown mode, requiring her attention. And then there was the investment she and her husband made in a beach house that needed updating and some basic TLC before it could be offered as a vacation getaway for families. Of course, none of these things were wrong, she just felt the stirring to focus on being more outward than inward; to support a cause by volunteering her time and abilities.
So that is exactly what she did. She chose the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Mental health was near and dear to her heart since one of her kids struggles with anxiety. They welcomed her energy and her host of new ideas for fundraising. Over the course of the year, she served on the Board, participated in the annual NAMI Walks for awareness, helped deliver Christmas bags to area group homes for NAMI families, and through her community connections was able to raise a significant amount for the organization. In return, she was blessed with new friendships and the satisfaction of knowing she was helping others.
In September she came to Tulsa to celebrate my birthday. Knowing her word was outreach, I made arrangements for us to volunteer at Turning Point Thrift Store located next to Loaves and Fishes. We sorted clothes, tagged and priced items, and welcomed shoppers. We even found of few treasures to take home. I loved spending part of my birthday guided by her word outreach.
With the arrival of 2020, now is the time to select a word for the year. Are you ready to join in?
I have chosen the word kindness. I’m challenging myself to stop and ask: What is the kindness thing to do in this situation? What kindness can I offer a hurting person? How can I become a kinder person? Where can I speak a word, provide a meal, or offer a hug? Who needs me to watch their kids, run an errand or simply sit and listen to their story? What scripture can I focus on that relates to kindness?
To help develop myself in this area, I picked up The Kindness Effect by Jill Donovan. Jill is the mastermind behind the Rustic Cuff craze. This attorney and law professor at the University of Tulsa has become a wildly successful entrepreneur. Jill uses her profits to bless others. As the book subtitle claims, Jill has discovered the power of irrational giving, encouraging her readers to do the same. In other words, spread kindness whenever and wherever possible—and give credit to God.
Now, what about you? What will your word be? What are you missing? What do you want to add? Is there an activity or even an attitude you want to incorporate into your life? Give it some thought and prayer, then commit it to the Lord. Get ready for Him to open opportunities for you to put your word into action. What a great 2020 ahead!
If you would like to know more about Jill and her adventures with kindness, you are invited to the Asbury Women’s Gathering on Friday, February 21 at 7:00 pm. Asbury Church is located at 6767 S. Mingo Road, Tulsa. No charge, refreshments provided. Register online at asburytulsa.org or call 918-492-1771.