Several years ago Tara (my wife) discovered an idea that was a bit different than the traditional New Year’s resolution. Instead of a list of impossible goals, she chose one word that would be a focus for the year. Some of those words have been kindness, happy, joy, choose and trust. Much of her decision to do that was to take the focus off of self as she was (and still is) battling a chronic illness that still has no diagnosis.

Over the last few months Tara mentioned that she wasn’t going to do a word for the year in 2018. Recently, it seems that the words she chose would became most difficult in everyday life. We both chalk that up to spiritual warfare. But a few days ago Tara said she was convicted to have a word for the year. Through emotion and tears she explained her word for 2018—JESUS!

Here is what she wrote a few days ago: “I know it’s not a traditional “one word” . . . it’s not an action word . . . but everything I do I’m going to filter it through the word JESUS. Some of the words I was contemplating can even be used through the filter of JESUS. How do I get BALANCE back in to my life? More JESUS. How do I FOCUS my life on things above? Focus on JESUS. How do I SURRENDER my whole life? Surrender to JESUS. How do I CHERISH those around me? Cherish JESUS. How do I have more GRATEFULNESS? Find gifts in every little thing . . . these gifts are from JESUS. How do I have PEACE? JESUS IS PEACE!! So here we go . . . JESUS, here’s my heart for 2018! This year (and every year) it’s all for You JESUS!

Over the last decade I’ve had a front row seat watching Tara fight for health. I have watched as she has struggled with the loss of many aspects of her former life. Together we’ve walked into countless doctors appointments hopeful and left deflated and discouraged. But, as I have watched Tara adapt to a new normal, I have witnessed her faith in Jesus grow.

To be honest, I’ve probably been less than enthusiastic and supportive with this whole word for the year thing. With that said, this year I’m in! I realize that so much of my life doesn’t involve Jesus at all. Too many times Jesus is an afterthought. Too many times I rely on Jesus when I’ve exhausted all other options. Too many times I leave Jesus out completely.

As I begin 2018 I am not going to resolve to lose weight—even though I need to lose a pound or ten. I am not going to skydive . . . I HATE heights. I am not going to try to be a better husband, dad, friend, pastor, preacher, leader, boss, neighbor, son or whatever. I am going to focus on Jesus. I am going to rely on Jesus’ words in John 15:5, trusting that if I remain in Him, He will remain in me and He will produce the fruit that He wants to produce in me.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re looking for the 5 Steps, 3 Clear Actions or 7 Days to a New Walk With Jesus. I love blogs like that. Just tell me what I need to do. Give me headings in bold and I will read the sections I want. I’m not going to do that. Truthfully, there is no formula, magic beans or secret sauce.

However, here are a few items that I’ve identified in my life that will help me focus on Jesus:

  • I need to spend time with Jesus in His word . . . without thinking about how ‘that’ll preach’ or keeping score on how much or how often I read. (My mind is wired like that.)
  • I need to spend more time in prayer, meditation (focused thought) and listening to God . . . without an agenda other than just making my life more about Jesus.
  • I need to make worship of Jesus a priority . . . not just on Sunday but every day. My wife has taught me the value of that. She makes worship a vital and daily part of her life.
  • I need to continue connecting in my Small Group. Being with other Christians allows me to see where I need to be more like Jesus because I get to see Jesus in other people.
  • I need to do a better job developing friendships with Christian men. Guys, let’s admit that we stink at friendship, especially when we have to be vulnerable. But we need friends who encourage us, kick our butt when we need it, and are there for us when life is difficult.

What about you? Do you need more Jesus? What do you need to do have more of Jesus in your life?