Whether if it’s setting goals for the New Year, or deciding what to focus on throughout the year, have you ever considered the question: What does God want you to focus on?

The New Year, a new month, even a new week are dates that researchers call a temporal landmark. It means a date where, psychologically, you are more inclined to make a fresh start.

That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so popular.

It should come as no surprise that the top five resolutions for the New Year are:

  1. To exercise more
  2. To eat healthier
  3. To lose weight
  4. To save money
  5. And to spend more time with loved ones

According to a New York Post article entitled New Year’s Resolutions Last Exactly This Long, only 8% of people meet their New Year’s goals. Fifty-five percent of those goals are usually health related. By the second week of February, 80% of people abandon going to the gym and exercise classes.

You Need Outward Goals On Which to Focus and Inward Goals

These typical resolutions are all focused on outward goals. But what about spiritual goals?

I say that joy is an inside job. We feel joy when we abide in God’s love and nurture our relationship with God through spiritual exercises of prayer, meditation, meditating on God’s Word, and being in community with others.

The time we spend in solitude and stillness produces fruit – love, joy, peace patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We come to believe that we are the Beloved.

One of my favorite spiritual mentors is Henri Nouwen. He says, “Being the Beloved is the origin and fulfillment of the life of the Spirit. Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make.”

Believing our belovedness will help us to achieve those outward goals too.

What Does God want You to Focus on this Year?

For the last five years I’ve chosen a word to focus on during the year. I know that many of you do too.

Choosing a word is not a frivolous exercise, like, “Oh, isn’t that nice that you choose a word for the year.” No, it’s meant to drill down to a single word that is your heart’s desire or value that you are serious to focus on and master.

In 2020 my word was Willing. In 2021 it was Surrender (I was finally willing to surrender). : ) In 2022 my word was Listen.

How Choosing a Word for the Year Creates Focus

This year’s word is Love. I almost chose the word Activate because I was reading I Corinthians 12:1-11. Paul talks about the various spiritual gifts and that God activates them – they are activated by the same Spirit who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.

Activate means to make active to be busy, energetic, vigorous. The more I thought about the word, the more it sounded like a success word, especially if I try and take control as the one doing the activating.

I kept reading the chapter and came to verse 31: “But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Chapter 12 then leads into Chapter 13. The more excellent way? The Gift of Love.

I wish to become love. To be patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant, or rude. Not insisting on my own way, or irritable, resentful. Rejoicing in truth. To bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

So, do you choose a word for the year? Or do you know in your heart what God wants you to focus on? I’d love to hear about your word or focus if you wish to share it with me in the comment section below.

Exploring questions like what does God want you to focus on is what spiritual direction is all about. It’s living those questions. Watch this short video and see if spiritual direction could be right for you.

If you enjoyed this post, I send an email every Monday with a question and verse for reflection. I call it living life with joy and flow. Want to join me?


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