What are the words we use most often? They are probably words such as “the, of, and, to, in and is” to name a few. Our kids would probably answer that question with the word “no” as the one word parents use most often. Yes, these are little words, but, you can’t typically make a sentence without them. And when the right words are put together they can be powerful. And they can effect change in our lives.

In Sunday’s message kicking off the Small Changes Big Difference teaching series, I challenged everyone in attendance to pick one word to focus on for 2015. Much like we do when we make resolutions at the beginning of the new year.

I asked that we choose one word that God will do in or through us and then focus on it for 2015. Here’s why. Willpower and self-effort only get us so far, especially when we’re overwhelmed with a long list of things we want to work on. My experience is that personal change and spiritual growth is more successful when we attempt to move the needle in one targeted area, rather than trying to tackle an overwhelming list of help needed areas each year.

Let me give you a few practical steps that will help you arrive at your word. First, what kind of spiritual growth do you want to make this year? In what area of spiritual growth will I get my greatest return? What about the condition of the heart? What small step(s) can help you become the person God created you to be? Second, what characteristics define this type of person? Is it faithfulness? Or generosity? Or a servant? Once you have a picture of that person, translate those characteristics into individual words.

Third, choose the one word from that list. Pick the word that resonates with you most. Some of the most popular choices include trust, patience, love, discipline, and focus. Even though each of them are worthwhile words, it’s important to choose just one, and resist the temptation to work on them all.

Fourth, choose a Bible verse that speaks to you about your chosen word and memorize it. And fifth, while we still at the beginning of the year, outline your expectations for the impact of your word for the remainder of the year. Also think of the ways to keep your word at the forefront during the coming year.

The thinking behind the one word is pretty straightforward. Instead of focusing on the long list of resolutions—all your sweeping promises to change—invest your time and efforts to make spiritual improvements in one area. It is far better than trying to do something about everything and giving up because impacting everything at one time is completely unrealistic.

Focusing on one area will force clarity and concentrate your efforts. As you focus on your word over an extended period of time, you position yourself for God to work on your character at a deep, sustainable level. I believe growth and change will result.
Discussion questions
What’s one thing you would like to change about yourself or accomplish this year? Is it something you need to take out of your life? Or is it something you need to add into your life ?

Evaluate yourself. In what ways did you grow last year and in what ways did you struggle? What is the one word that represents that one change you wish to make?

What is a key verse or passage that will help you with what you have chosen?

What’s the first step you need to take to live out this change?