Skip to content

Words to Live By: Establishing a Powerful Word of the Year

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3

I gave up new year resolutions years ago. I’d either forget about them by March or couldn’t reach the goal I set for myself, leaving me in a heap of regret and feeling like a failure. 

So for years I did nothing and guess where it took me—nowhere! 

A number of years ago, I realized I don’t need a gym membership, a new organizational system or a financial planner to make the changes I needed or desired. I needed clarity and focus.

After hearing a guest speaker at church, I saw God was asking me to set the tone for the year instead of setting resolutions. So instead of focusing on one concrete goal that likely will end in failure, I chose a word of the year and I worked on incorporating it into my every-day life. These words become my theme for the year, my focus and my GPS.

When you choose a single word, you can have more clarity and focus. 

Every November, I ask the Lord for a word to guide me in the upcoming year. This word—whatever He gives me—means a lot to me. You see, it’s not just some random word I don’t remember by the time May rolls around, it’s a word I focus on all year long. ⁣

⁣⁣⁣Sometimes I hear the given word and enthusiastically implement it into my life before the new year has even started. But other times, I have to verify and triple-check my word. “Really, Lord, that’s my word?” 🤷🏼‍♀️

⁣Last November, when He whispered the word ‘abide’ in my ear, I admit I was a little disappointed. I think back on other years when He gave me much more tangible words like serve, presence, and glory. But abide?⁣ (I secretly think I start this process in November, so I have a few weeks to second-guess Him! 🤦🏼‍♀️) ⁣⁣⁣⁣

⁣So, I continually asked Him to clarify my word because, well, I just don’t trust what He’s saying to me. Have you ever done that? ⁣⁣⁣

⁣To be honest, I wanted a different word. ⁣⁣⁣⁣You see, I already had a well-defined “quiet time” established, so this word didn’t make sense to me. 

But as I look back on my year, I see why He gave it to me. He completely changed my morning routine. I dig into scripture in new ways. My prayer life is on a whole new level. ⁣⁣Through it all, Jesus and I became closer friends, deepening our relationship like I never dreamed possible. 💖⁣⁣⁣

⁣It’s November, and I’ve already begun asking Him what word He’s going to give me for 2020. This year, I’m going to try and accept it whole-hearty! 🤗⁣⁣⁣

How to Obtain Your Word

So how do you go about picking a word? Like I said earlier, I ask God for mine. He usually gives me a word during our table talk time and then I see or hear the word over and over solidifying it’s my word. 

I usually start by spending time with Jesus and do some self-reflecting. I think about the past year and where He has worked in my life. I ponder the characteristics I need to improve in my own life. Do I want to be more generous? Do I need to show more patience? Do I need to take more time to restore my busy lifestyle? Do I need more order in my life or balance in your diet? 

Need some inspiration? Download my Words to Live By printable. Is there a word that just seems to pop out or speak to you?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself (and God!)

  • How do I want to feel this year? More balanced? More energy? 
    – Your word might be health, restore, boundaries, etc.
  • What areas do I need to work on? Do I need to overcome a struggle? Do I need to change my perspective? Make moments matter?
    – Your word might be, trust, hope, joy, grace, etc. 
  • What kind of experiences do I want to have? Where am I not being fulfilled?
    – Your word might be servant, ministry, shine, etc.
  • Where do I want to be at the end of this year? I want to publish a book, I want to travel, or start a small business.
    Your word might be vision, favor, devoted, intentional, etc.
  • What area does God want to take hold of in your life and use for His glory?
    – Your word might be blessed, glory, praise, etc.

See what words come to your mind and jot them down. Then ask God to confirm your word. He’ll have your word show up over and over if you need Him to. (Trust me, I know!) God wants you to grow and He will give you a word in order to keep your focus. He’ll have others say the word through conversations, teachings, and even social media. One of my mentees jotted down the word “light” in her prayer time and then noticed the word “light” showing up online—Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. She knew God was confirming her word “Light” for next year. 

So, you have your word, now what?

Continually pray that God reveals His purpose for giving you the word. Keep it before your eyes and work it into your everyday life. Here are some ideas I have done throughout the years.

  • Study and write it down with the definition. You can even make a sign with your word and the meaning.
  • Look up scriptures that use your word or it’s meaning. (Study different translations, write the verses out, study them, etc.)
  • Read books about your word.  
  • Get a wall handing or necklace with your word on it. I bought a necklace that had “glory” on it and I still wear it.
  • Put it on your fridge or vision board to keep your focus on it all year.
  • Buy or print it on a mug so you think of it often.

Having a word of the year has been life-changing for me. Each year my word guided me directly into the fullness of all God has for me. When ‘serve’ was my word, I served at church eventually leading up to a job that taught me so much about ministry. When my word was ‘presence’ and ‘glory’, I saw Jesus reveal His greatness in ways I normally would have not noticed. He’ll do the same for you, my friend.

So let’s live out the new year in an intentional way. Are you with me? 🙋🏼 Let’s make 2020 wonderfully different. #letsgoplaces


  1. Chris Hall on December 31, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Carol,
    Seeing this today was AMAZING! In my heart I know God is giving me a WORD! I’ve been SEEKING Him 💗. This article blessed me so much!!! I am grateful for your words.
    God Bless you,

    • Carol Ensminger on December 31, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      Great Chris! I’m so glad you got something out of it. Did you figure out your word yet? 2020 is going to extraordinary!

Leave a Comment