I have developed a habit over the past few years of selecting one single word to focus my life on for the duration of the coming twelve months. This is the word I will strive to live by for the next year. Identifying a word to live by for the year helps me to keep my focus on a specific area of growth, and helps me become more of the person God has created me to be.
I’ve settled my focus on several different words over the last few years. For example, in 2011, I chose to focus on the word passion. This word underlined all I did throughout the year. It defined the year. Everything I did, I did with enthusiasm, and passion was pretty visible in most areas of my life.
In 2012, I chose the word commit. One of my biggest struggles in life has been to stick to many of the things I decide to do. Focusing on this word helped me to address that deficiency.
In 2013, I chose the word intentional. We have a large family, and as a result, we have a lot going on. I realized that I needed to be intentional, especially in my relationships with family and friends, and in my ministry.
In both 2014 and 2015, I chose the word wait. I tend to be very impatient at times, and focusing on waiting helped me see the bigger picture. And, rather than take matters into my own hands, it allowed my faith to grow by waiting on the Lord.
Each year, I choose to identify and implement a single word as a part of my Life Plan. I add this word to the beginning of my plan, and try to use it as a piece of the foundation for every portion of my plan. Some areas are more successful than others.
As crazy as my life has become, I need a word concept that will help me grow substantially. Over the past year and a half, we have faced several significant challenges. My wife broke her ankle. My youngest child was born. I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, depression and stress, and cancer. My life seems to have turned itself upside down. The word wait was an essential part of my life, as I waited on God to reveal his plan, even though I had no idea where he might be working in my life, changing me, challenging me, growing me.
And I still make rash decisions. I still impulsively jump in and take matters into my own hands. It seems as if my focus on the word wait has taught me nothing, or at the very least, only a little about waiting. It seems as if I lack prudence.
And so that is my word for the coming months of 2016: Prudence.
Prudence is a word that has fallen out of common usage over the past few decades. Once it was a concept we used and identified with well. Today, many don’t even know it is a word. That is unfortunate, because it is a word we could well use again.
Simply put, prudence means to wait, to be patience, to use wisdom and discretion in all things.
This is very similar to the word wait. And I have chosen it intentionally, because I suspect that God isn’t finished teaching me about the concept of waiting and exercising patience and wisdom.
Proverbs 14 has something to say about being prudent. In verse 8, the writer states, “the wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way, but the folly of fools is deceiving.” And in verse 15, he says, “the simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.”
The prudent person is wise and shows that wisdom by thinking things through before making a decision, rather than making a rash and impulsive choice. In other words, I need to continue to wait.
I know that prudence is God honoring. Proverbs 15:24 tells us that “the path of life leads upward for the prudent, that he may turn away from Sheol beneath.”
Prudence is a trait we would all do well to exercise and develop. Prudence is a word we need to reintroduce into our vocabulary.
That’s the word I plan on keeping in front of me for the year. It will be integrated into my life plan. It will be printed at the head of my goals lists. It will be hung on the wall above my desk so that I can see it daily.
But in order for me to see any growth in my life in this area, I must work at developing prudence in my daily life. It may be difficult, but it will help me be more of the man that I was created to be.
Question: Have you selected One Word to live by this year? If so, what is it and why did you select it? If not, should you consider doing so? You can leave a comment by clicking here.