Do you have a word of the year? Choosing a word of the year is something I have only done once, and that was several years ago. It never crossed my mind again until a few weeks ago when word of the year became a thing on Instagram and other blogs. So, I started to ponder. If I were to choose a single word of the year…

  1. How would I decide?
  2. What purpose would it serve?
  3. What will it be?

While all this word of the year business was going on, I was also listening to Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism-the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, on Audible. Here’s the most important thing I gleaned from the book, “less but better.”

We can enjoy the good part of life by “making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

So, the list of possible words started with ESSENTIAL.

Then, as some medical decisions and working from home decisions loomed over my head, and others started showing up, I started praying for the Lord’s guidance.Ask these three questions to decide on your word of the year 2021

The list grew by one more word, WISDOM.

There was still more pondering about this word amidst the holiday planning, wrapping, and eating of treats. It was hard to concentrate on much with yearend activities at work, tracking gifts lost in transit, and determining how to do Christmas. In shifts, different days, in the driveway, or on a tablet. It was just so much all at once.

We were worried about keeping everyone safe while trying to see them too. And where did Jesus fit into all of this?

My list was finally complete with FOCUS.

It was December 29th, I still hadn’t decided what to do about Christmas or a word of the year. But I had decided to start a Gospel reading plan for 2021 a few days early. Reading just two chapters a day only takes minutes, so why not?

By day three, December 31st, I was in chapter six of the Gospel of Matthew and found this passage:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)


Seek FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matt 6:33).

FOCUS on Jesus.

Simple, right? Martha, Martha may never have figured this out, but her sister, Mary, sure did.

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who was also seated at the Lord’s feet, and was listening to His word40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do the serving by myself? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary; for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Mary ditched societal norms of the time and decided on the essential, the good part. She chose to focus on Jesus.

Answers to my three questions

  1. How would I decide? I believe the Holy Spirit helped me decide by pulling ahead the start of my Gospel reading plan and guiding me to Matt 6:33 by New Year’s Eve. He made it necessary for me. Essential.
  2. What purpose would it serve?  Focusing on Jesus is wise because [BONUS] it requires spending time with Him, which is the good part. Surely, wisdom will be an equal outcome of the investment of my time. That’s on me. Deciding to focus on Jesus eliminates the need for so many other decisions, and I believe it is essential for any breakthrough in wisdom, peace, or contentment, for example. And that’s what I desperately need. That’s putting a lot on Jesus, I know, but I think He can handle it. Suddenly, all my pondering ceased, all my questions were answered, and somehow all three words were addressed. I had my word of the year.
  3. What will it be? FOCUS.

And so, the adventure begins. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn while sitting at the Master’s feet.

Do you follow this practice of choosing a word of the year? If you do, would you consider sharing one or two of them with us, telling us how you applied them to your life and how you benefited from the experience?


Greg McKeown, Essentialism-the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, 2017, Crown Business-US Publisher