My dad was a preacher and my role model. One of the things he modeled to me was coming up with a theme for the coming year. This has proven to be a great habit that keeps time from becoming elusive and escaping. For example, “Knees to the Floor in ’74” was one of dad’s themes. He would then use that as the theme of our annual New Year’s Eve youth rally in Winslow, Arizona, where I grew up during elementary and middle school, to kick-start the New Year. Then for the entirety of 1974 he focused on understanding and integrating prayer into his teaching and daily life. It was a lot of fun even if at times a bit cheesy. I have tried to follow his example of having a theme each year in my own life, albeit without his flare for rhyming.
Write Your Personal Theme for 2017
My primary thought for 2016 has been Solomon’s wisdom: “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) That wisdom has captured my imagination because it means that the most important leadership tool I have is something other than my experience, knowledge, skill or network. Each of those qualities matter for sure, but the more important and lasting concern is the health of my heart because that is the beginning point of everything else in my life. I encourage you to write down your personal theme for 2017 which might be a word or scripture or quote.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”― Soren Kierkegaard
Think New Thoughts
Let your thoughts be guided by your theme for 2017. According to Solomon, the beginning point for a new life is a new heart! It stands to reason that when you learn to think in a new way, that you will start to live in a new way. A person’s mindset is the beginning point for a new life. Our mindset is the sum of our beliefs and thoughts. Having a theme is helpful because it helps you to become an observer of yourself. For example, does what you say and do reflect your new thoughts?
Another reason I have focused on that verse is that what I feel and think in my heart is who I truly am. That is what I need to pay attention to. I am not what I am outwardly but what I am inwardly. I’m not necessarily who others think I am but rather who I am in my heart. I may put on a good face for others to see, but that is not necessarily who I am. I am what I think, say and do in private. Haven’t you noticed that what is private today often becomes public tomorrow? And so, I’ve paid close attention this past year to the set point of my heart. When necessary, I’ve worked to reset my heart in the same way that we reset the thermostat in our homes. The temperature in our homes always returns to the set point. That’s always been the case for God’s people. God always does his part. He just needs us to do our part by guarding our heart.
As 2016 comes to a close and a new year is on the horizon, let’s guard our hearts, hope in the Lord, enjoy the journey, plan well, apply wisdom and see what good things the Lord provides in 2017.