My three words for 2017

Back in 2012, I substituted three single-word aspirations for full-blown New Year’s resolutions. At the time, it sounded less a challenge to live into a few syllables than to follow through on complete sentences. Four years and 12 words later, I knew otherwise.

In fact, I was so put off by what seemed an annual exercise in futility that I let 2016 go without a three-word charge.

But thank goodness for the 20/20 advantage of hind-sight. Looking back, I see God’s fingerprints all over what came after I settled on my yearly word lists. To be sure, much that happened was not as I had anticipated, but God was there. Working. For good. In it all.

So I’m back at it, once again claiming three words for the new year.  For 2017, I choose


Curiosity. I’ve always fancied myself a curious person, a self-perception bolstered by my StrengthsFinder assessment identifying “learner” and “ideation” among my top-five strengths. But then along came the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The contentious national debate leading up to election day opened my eyes to just how uncurious I am about people who think, live, read the Bible, and vote differently from me.

In 2017, I am determined to avoid shorthand caricatures and stereotypes of folks whose ideas, choices, and/or worldview differ from my own. I want to listen, learn, and relate with sincere curiosity — to put in the hard work of building new relationships. 

Courage. A few weeks back, I cautioned a friend on Facebook about spreading a fake news story, choosing my words carefully (I thought) so as not to offend (which I did, big time). The comment section filled with angry responses to my “innocent” message, leaving me stunned by what I had provoked. All this to say, following through on my commitment to social curiosity scares the living daylights out of me. I go into the new year with a “botch” (probably more) already on my belt.

In 2017, I want to hear and heed God’s counsel to those of us lacking in courage. “Fear not,” God says. “I am with you,” God promises. “Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up,” God urges.

May the words of my mouth, oh God . . .

Grace. “It looks perfect, but it’s only a picture. People aren’t,” my friend consoled as I sobbed over a family event that hadn’t gone my way. Although I love the word grace, I’m not much good at applying it in real-time. Perhaps because the fundamentalist home and churches in which I grew up were more about law than grace, I struggle with believing that I measure up spiritually or any other way. Time and again, I fail to cut myself (or anyone else) a break for being human.

In 2017, I want to experience God’s grace as God intends. Not as a brass ring, always within sight yet just beyond reach, but as a gift freely given by God to all who would receive. In turn, I want to be a bearer of God’s grace to others – family, friends, neighbor, and consulting clients.


As in years past, I am eager to hear what three words God is speaking into the lives and hearts of Generous Matters readers. Let me (and others) know by writing your words in the comment section below. While you think and listen, here are three timely words from me to you.

Happy. New. Year.

For my three words from earlier years, see:

My three words for 2012

My three words for 2013

My three words for 2014

My three words for 2015


  1. I usually pray for a single word or a scripture for the ministry. Last year the word was ABUNDANCE and we saw God move in many miraculous ways. We began capturing our “successes” on an 8′ whiteboard in our conference room. At the end of the year, we were astounded at how abundantly successful the ministry was — impacting client lives, receiving God’s provision, and seeing many coming to faith. I don’t have a word yet for this year, but perhaps I need to pray for three words! Great idea.

    • I love your idea, Kerry, of keeping a running total of ministry successes in a place where staff and volunteers can see and be reminded of God’s amazing abundance and goodness. Thank you for sharing the suggestion so that others can give it a try.

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