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Can 1 word change your life?

Unsplash/John-Mark Smith
Unsplash/John-Mark Smith

For the past 22 years, I have ditched New Year’s resolutions and instead developed a One Word vision statement. For 12 months, my One Word becomes a driving force in my life. My One Word isn't about “what” but “who” and “why.” I focus on “who do I want to become,” not “what do I want to accomplish.” It defines me and drives me to live on purpose with passion. Developing One Word has brought changes to all aspects of my life.

My One Word doesn’t only make a difference in my life, but it also impacts the lives of others because it helps me invest in what really matters. It gives me clarity and focus to live for Christ and make the greatest impact for the glory of God. Each year becomes a chapter to the story God is writing with my life; it’s as if each One Word titles my chapters. My life has been permanently marked with words like intimacy, obedience, refresh, generous and grace.

We have all just experienced two very difficult years that no one would have predicted in 2019. There are many words that could define these last two years: loss, pain, trials, change, and suffering, to name a few. But One Word has helped me reframe the past couple of years and see the positive. For example, my One Word for 2021 was "Wisdom" because I wanted to develop a heart of wisdom in a world that was becoming more and more complicated.

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Despite the challenges of the past year, my One Word kept me focused on finding God’s wisdom and sharing it. God showed me that wisdom is simply seeing things the way He sees them. He showed me wisdom is always shared and never for me to keep to myself. Wisdom, not trials, is the narrative of my last year. It wasn’t a perfect year, but it was God-marked because wisdom led the way.

A new year offers us time to evaluate and reflect on our hopes and dreams.

Looking in, we prepare our hearts and disengage from the hectic pace of life by eliminating noise and clutter. Looking up, we ask God to reveal what He wants for us. Looking out, we discern how to live every day of the upcoming year with meaning and mission, purpose, and passion. We anticipate the possibilities.

I’m believing this next year will be great. I believe it could be defined by words like revival, breakthrough, anointing, healing, and unity. I’m believing the best and trusting God to work in amazing ways.

As we look forward to 2022, what story do you want to tell at the end of the year?

I have been asking the Lord for the One Word He wants for me in 2022. Some years, it’s like my word finds me. Other times, I feel like I am digging deep on a treasure hunt to discover it. This year, I didn’t have clarity on my One Word right away, but I wasn’t stressed. I wrote down several options and for many days over the past few weeks, I tried them out. This helped me narrow my list down to two: sacrifice and unity.

Last September, our FCA President, Shane Williamson, shared with leadership that our team’s One Word would be unity. I was asked to lead a devotional last month on unity for our team and ever since, the Lord hasn’t released me from this word. When I was sharing with a coworker about the “why” behind unity, he said, “I think you found your One Word!”

God loves unity. He longs for His Church to be unified. There is so much division and destruction today, and the Lord wants to restore and bring His people together, making them stronger than ever before. He wants unity in marriages, families, churches, businesses, schools, teams and ministries. And most importantly, He wants unity with us.

When I gave the devotional to our team, I shared 5 principles I believe will be my foundation in 2022:

1. In unity, there is strength.

In Ecclesiastes 4:12 it says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The cord implies being braided together or intertwined. There is strength when we are connected and lock arms.

2. In unity, there is harmony.

In Psalm 133 we read, “How delightfully good when brothers live together in harmony!” Division is the enemy of unity, and when we are divided, harmony and peace get lost. We should yearn for unity because it is good, right, and fitting.

3. In unity, there is teamwork.

In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Solomon writes, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” We need to be one team, united together in spirit and purpose. Ready to help others up. No lone rangers! When we seek unity, we won’t fall to the sin of isolation.

4. In unity, there is a witness.

In John 17:21 Jesus said, “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me.” When the world sees the Church unified, acting “as one,” we are witnessing. Charles Spurgeon said, “The world does not read the Bible. The world reads Christians. You are the light of the world.”

5. In unity, there is joy.

In Philippians 2:1-2 Paul writes, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal.” Is there joy in every part of your life — family, work, and marriage? Unity will bring joy.

I have experienced God’s transforming, miraculous power over the past 22 years of my One Word journey. Each year stands alone as a powerful testimony of how God refined, shaped, molded, and developed me into who He wanted me to become. Through the valleys and mountaintops, He has taken me deeper to become more like Jesus. I can’t wait for what 2022 will bring.

Join me this year on a One Word adventure. Pray for God to give you a word that will keep you focused on things that really matter. And yes, One Word can change your life!

Dan Britton is the Chief Field Officer for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He has served FCA since 1990, and since 2013, has led FCA’s international efforts, traveling extensively around the world, as FCA works in 92 countries, training thousands of sports leaders, coaches and athletes.

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