Just One Word – Part 1
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 3:13-14

It’s hard to simplify life. Narrowing the focus seems impossible. Over this past year, I know you have been asked hundreds of time, “How is it going?” Your response was probably something like mine: “I have been SO busy!” I haven’t heard one person respond: “I’ve had so much time on my hands, and I’m looking for something new to do.” I would love to meet that person.
As an athlete or coach, you have tons of responsibilities, and your schedule is crazy. You feel like you are sprinting on the field and sprinting in life. That is why we need to be intentional about clarifying and simplifying life. For the past eight years, I have been sharing with many people the simple discipline of picking just one word as a theme for the upcoming year. That is right, a ONE-word theme. Not a phrase, not a statement, just a single word. And to this point, it has been nothing short of life-changing.
In the movie City Slickers, there is a scene that reveals the value and magnitude of “one thing.” Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a vacationing businessman who, along with two friends, takes on the adventure of a cattle drive. In the middle of the drive, a rough-necked cowhand named Curly tells Mitch that the secret to life is just one thing. Curly emphasizes the point by holding one finger up and saying, “You need to stick to that one thing.” To this, Mitch replies, “What is that one thing?” Curly responds back, “That is what you gotta figure out.”
Curly is not a Bible scholar, but he does recognize the power of just one thing. Even though the Bible does not have the phrase “one-word theme,” it is interesting to note that the phrase “one thing” appears five times in the Bible: once in Philippians and four times in the Gospels.
In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul uses the phrase “one thing” to bring focus and clarity to his calling. In Luke 10:42 Jesus says to Martha, “only one thing is needed.” Both Luke 18:22 and Mark 10:21 include His words to the rich man and express a lack of “one thing.” John 9:25 also includes this phrase as the blind man tells the Pharisees, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
In the same way that Scripture uses these words, we also can put it to use by asking God to reveal a one-word theme for us for the upcoming year.
For me, this one-word exercise, in its simplicity, helps bring clarity into a very complex world. The discipline of picking a one-word theme has stretched me in all areas—spiritually, physically and emotionally. God has transformed me in many ways through this exercise, and I know that through it God can bring truth and revelation into your life, as well.
When I first started this process, half of the fun was choosing the word for the year, but I have learned that it is not necessarily me who chooses the word, but rather God who reveals it to me. God can, indeed, drop an anointed, specific word into your soul. In my first year, I admit that it was 99 percent me picking the word and 1 percent God speaking. Even so, God still used it! But as I have become more experienced in the process, I have learned to really listen and watch for God’s leading in selecting the word.
It has been my experience that God quickly reveals His plans for the year regarding your one-word. That word (be it a discipline, fruit of the Spirit, character trait, attribute of God or even the name of a person) will brand you for life! Every day, you’ll be blessed as you experience God revealing to you powerful truth about your one-word theme. Everywhere you turn, there will be new insights and valuable lessons associated with that word.
Enjoy the process, and remember: just one word. Not a phrase. Not even two words. Just one word!

1. Why is it so hard to simplify life?
2. Why do you think we try to impress people with more rather than less?
3. How do you answer the question, “How are you doing?” Does the word “busy” always come out? How can you respond differently?
4. What did Paul say his one thing was in Philippians 3:13-14?
5. What is God saying to you now about your one-word theme for 2011? Commit some serious time to praying and asking God to speak to you.

Luke 10:42
Luke 18:22
Mark 10:21
John 9:25
“Lord, as I get ready to start 2011, I ask that You would make it a life-changing year. I want to live for You alone. Reveal Yourself to me as You show me what my one-word theme will be. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I realize that it is a journey of learning, not a task to accomplish. Through this process, I desire to know You better. Strengthen me as I live out this word every day.”
Tomorrow’s Impact Play will have the key steps to developing the one-word theme for the year.

Dan Britton serves as FCA’s Executive Vice President of Ministry Programs at the National Support Center in Kansas City. He is the co-author of WisdomWalks – a real-life guide for walking purposefully with God and others. He and his wife Dawn reside in Overland Park, Kan., with their three children: Kallie, Abby and Elijah. As a former professional lacrosse player, he still loves playing and coaching lacrosse and running marathons. You can e-mail Dan at dan@fca.org.
Become a WisdomWalker! WisdomWalks.org

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