The New Year Comes Down to One Word

New Year One Word 2016

One of the spaces in my home that is the most challenging for my marriage is the kitchen. My wife and I both love to cook – but she’s the one who is really gifted at it. She throws a little of this with a little of that, and it always turns out amazing.

For me, I need a recipe. I measure everything exactly – I’m a rule follower when it comes to cooking. And it doesn’t always come out right even when I follow directions. There truly is an art and science to making things taste and look good.

My calendar is another place that I try to follow a structure and measure. As I look over my calendar the past year, it says a lot. Where I was. What I did. Who I met with. What I was running after. What I let fall behind. It shows to what I said yes. To what I said no by saying yes.

We are often in a quest for more.

More money.
More square footage.
More rest.
More time.

One of the places that we are all equal, regardless of where you live or what you have, is time. And we often wish we had more of it. However, for me, its not that I wish I had more – but that I used what I had more wisely. It’s a place that I often make the wrong choice. I often waste time on things that don’t matter, or even prioritize the wrong things, even if they are good things.

And as I move into 2016, it’s an area of my life that I feel God is calling me to evaluate how and what I measure.


For years, I feel like I’ve wrestled with the question “how much is enough?” – with wanting more. Thinking my contentment will be measured by things I fill my day or home with. I measure my success against the success of others – how they have defined what enough is and what to say yes to. What happiness is. Even what experiencing God looks like in comparison to others.

I heard a sermon on this topic recently, and it has continued to echo in my heart. We measure people with our own measuring stick through the questions we ask when we first meet them.

  • Where do you live? (That area of town? You must be wealthy!)
  • What do you do for a living? (Oh really? Don’t you have bigger aspirations that just that?)
  • Where do you go to church? (Oh. I didn’t know that’s what you believed.)
  • Are you married? (You must be lonely.)

All these are different measurements for us to put people into a box. Defining and labeling them. Yet, as I’ve gotten older, I feel the question has changed for me: “how am I measuring what I have?”

As Sheryl Crow once sang, “It’s not having what you want, It’s wanting what you’ve got.” How do I approach this new year with that perspective?

The Bible is full of measurements. The temple walls and gates. The harvest of grain and barley. Heights of giants. Days in the desert. Yet, when God calls us to measure our lives, his measurements are different than ours.

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. (Luke 6:38 NASB)

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:24 NASB)

…and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,18 may be able to comprehend with all the [m]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [nforever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:18-20 NASB)

Measuring is more than just prioritizing and saying no to things so you can say yes to others. It’s measuring depth – beyond face value and its moment in time. It’s knowing that He’s willing and able to do far more than we can ask or think. It’s understanding how big God’s love is, and how he wants us to experience that love to its fullest, but it requires us to value its size beyond comprehension.

As I move into 2016, I feel compelled to measure more, and measure less.

Measure what matters. And give freely of what doesn’t.

He has given me immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine. I should honor Him and those gifts with seeing things as He measures them. And by trading my measuring stick for His to value the things that truly matter.

We’ve celebrated the discipline of choosing one word to define the new year for the past 8 years. Be encouraged by the “one words” from the past years and join us for 2016! What word have you chosen to lead your 2016?

27 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Mandy January 25, 2016

    I know this is kind of late, but my word for this year is brokenness. I blogged about it here:

  2. Mandy January 25, 2016

    I know this is a little late, but my word for this year is brokenness. I blogged about it here:

  3. Dulcinea January 21, 2016

    Thank you for this writing prompt because it forced me to truly seek the Lord about my word for this year. And without knowing about this writing prompt, for I just stumbled upon this site today, I wrote a blog post last week concerning a reminder/lesson/correction. My word for this year is “Feed”. Here’s the link to the post:

    1. Emily Vanhoutan January 21, 2016

      Dulcinea, God bless you this year! Thank you so much for sharing your word!

  4. Jules Middleton January 20, 2016

    Like Cheri above, my word is ‘JOY’! explanations is here:

    Jules 🙂

    1. Emily Vanhoutan January 21, 2016

      Thanks for sharing your word, Jules! Blessing to you this year and I pray God teaches you about the depth of his joy and the love he has for you!

  5. Lisa January 12, 2016

    Mike, I love that your word is measure and the biblical prospective on that word. Good stuff!
    My word isn’t a word but rather a phrase: give it over to Jesus. I wrote a little bit about it here:

  6. Nancy January 6, 2016

    Mine is “create”. Here’s my post:

  7. Hannah H. January 6, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your word…that was really encouraging, to remember how God measures. My word is patience:

  8. Krystal January 6, 2016

    My one word is surrender. I blogged about it here:

    1. Emily Vanhoutan January 6, 2016

      Wow, Krystal! I enjoyed reading your beautiful blog. It’s only six days in and it sounds like God’s already impressed so much on your heart and you’re learning deep intimacy and trust in him in incredible ways! I have a feeling you have a beautiful year in store for you and that your relationship with Jesus is going to penetrate your life in explainable ways! I’m excited for you and thanks for sharing the word God put in your heart for 2016!

  9. Michael Stephens January 5, 2016

    Well, this is the Sunday school answer, but I want more JESUS in 2016 🙂 so my one word is JESUS 🙂

    1. Emily Vanhoutan January 6, 2016

      I think that’s the perfect word, Michael! 🙂 Thanks for teaching your children at church all about Jesus! I pray he draws you close to him this year and that you find intimacy in the secret place and hope and truth when you spend time with him this year! Blessings to you!

  10. Lisa January 4, 2016

    My one word is flourish. I hope to flourish in my endeavors and help others flourish in theirs.

  11. Yvonne Reynolds January 4, 2016

    My one word for 2016 is pray. It is something I know I need to spend more time doing, especially when it comes to praying for my Compassion kids. I wrote about my one word on my blog:

  12. Krista Dunbar January 4, 2016

    My one word for this next year is Intentional! I blogged about it here:

  13. Lynn Watson January 4, 2016

    Here’s my 1 word: Celebrate!

  14. Terri January 2, 2016

    This was really great, I never really thought about this much how we measure things and how we measure others, when all that really matters is how God measures us. This was my first year actually picking a word, they usually tend to pick me… my word this year is Believe and here is my post about it

  15. Cheri Henderson January 2, 2016

    Thanks for the one-word challenge. My word for 2016: joy – or, as one friend prayed for me, inexplicable joy. It is inexplicable only to those who don’t share our hope in Christ.

  16. Kathy January 2, 2016

    My word for 2016 is Wait.

  17. Jessica Mathisen January 1, 2016

    I love that you challenged us to think about how to measure what truly matters. My one word is “trust” and I wrote about it on my blog An Immeasurable Joy, which can be found on

  18. Jessica Mathisen January 1, 2016

    I love that you challenged us to think about how to measure what matters most. My one word is “trust”

  19. Hannah Guillory January 1, 2016

    My 2016 word is GIFT.

  20. Michelle January 1, 2016

    As the days of 2015 dwindled down, I doubted there would be one word for 2016 for me. So heavy was my heart, I didn’t even spend much time thinking nor praying about it. But then just a few days ago it become so very clear, Grow. I am slowly creating a word map for GROW and am feeling inspired by what it is looking like.

  21. Christie January 1, 2016

    After feeling like my mind, heart, and body have been all over the place in the past few months, my one word for this year is Rooted.

  22. Katie January 1, 2016

    My word for 2016 is “grow”!

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