My Word for 2021

The word for the year came faster and more subtly than I expected. I anticipated a word out of left field, something I wouldn’t understand but would come to grasp as spring gave way to summer. Instead, what came into focus made almost too much sense. Am I just choosing this word for my own sake? Sure felt that way. So even though I was clearly given it on January 1st (what a thoughtful Lord), I waited until January 2nd just to be sure.

This year’s word (my days, who am I) is complete.

The wildly applicable Scripture behind it:

“And in this I give advice: it is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you must also complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has and not according to what he does not have.” II Corinthians 8:10-12

Never really seen those verses before? Yeah, me neither.

There’s a three-fold purpose behind this chosen word. The first is found in the main verse above: complete what you were already desiring and ready to do. In my case, complete what you already started, what God already called you to do. Leave the other stuff for now.

I’m really good at starting exciting projects; even getting them to about midway of completion — but that’s where it often stops. I get distracted (even by good things!), discouraged, bored, or frustrated. And then I find something else. 

There are around twelve things that God has called me to focus on this year. Some of them are recent, others began nearly a decade ago. But this is the year of completion: where I will complete the projects God has called me to do. This will require deep focus and a lot of saying no.

When I shared the word and this idea with my husband, he kinda laughed and said “You already say no a lot!” And it’s true; it’s something I’ve worked hard at, and I certainly am good at saying no to requests on my time. But I’m only good at saying no when I don’t want to do something. It’s a lot harder for me to say no when I want to do it. 

During 2020, I was asked to speak a record amount of times in a record amount of places. And I loved it. I love studying the Bible with people, presenting topics on relationships and boundaries, and being a part of panels that receive difficult questions. I usually get stressed right before (thanks for always praying with me, David), but I always always enjoy it. But with my focus this year, I realize I need to say no to the vast majority — maybe even all — of my speaking invitations for this year. And that hurts.

Just yesterday, I returned from a run to two separate relationship-focused speaking invitations. They were for David and me to speak together, another thing that I love. But after praying about it, I remembered that I need to focus. So, David offered himself as a solo speaker.

Photo by Yoal Desurmont on Unsplash

I believe this is for a season, so I don’t think I’ll never publicly present again. But it’s a good lesson: there is a lot of immediate gratification that speaking brings that my current projects do not. There’s much more affirmation, verbal encouragement (my favorite!), and even dopamine rush that comes from publicly speaking. But I was not called — this year or at any time — to chase an experience. I’m called to obey and follow the Gentle Shepherd. I’m called to do thankless ministry, and the kind that shows its fruit far into the future instead of right away. All ministry is ministry; I just know which one I’m supposed to do right now based on what He says, not on what I’m itching for.

The second aspect of complete is that I’m operating from a place where I already am so. I’m not completing these projects or tasks because it makes me complete, but I already am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10). I’m serving from a place of wholeness, not a place of trying to become so.

The third aspect of complete is, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). I have reasons, arguably good reasons, for why I haven’t finished many of these projects: I’m not smart enough, I don’t know the Bible well enough, I’m not articulate enough, etc. But God is the one who has started all good work in me and He is the same who will complete it, not me. That’s not my part to complete. 

So as I seek to complete daunting tasks and projects, say no to things I’m used to saying yes, and manage my time in a whole new way, I know that I’m already complete in Christ, and that anything I need in order to do these tasks God will supply and do the heavy lifting. I’m not called to manufacture things I do not have; I’m called to do what I can with what I have (II Corinthians 8:12).