For the past several years I’ve prayerfully selected a word of the year as a guidepost for goal setting. Past words Growth, Still, Ready, Inquire, and Pursue have helped me create filters for different seasons. These words have allowed me to establish margin around SMART goals. As a coach’s wife, I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do have big life goals I want to accomplish. The “one word” concept has helped me stay focused on my overarching goal and move forward as I establish short goals each year related to different projects.
My One Word 2021 is Thrive
Merriam-Webster defines thrive as a verb thrived or throve; thrived also thriven; thriving
Definition of thrive
As I consider applying thrive to my life this year I want to take a holistic approach and focus on mind, body and soul. I love this quote from Maya Angelou:
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”– Maya Angelou
King Solomon, the wisest man in the world writes in Proverbs that the righteous will thrive. I think it’s always helpful to remember why Proverbs exists. This is a father writing a letter to his sons. His purpose is to share what he’s learned about life, both the good and the bad.
Proverbs 1:1-7 (NIV)
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Here are two times King Solomon uses the word thrive
Proverbs 11:27-31 (NIV)
Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
Those who trust in their riches will fall,
but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be a servant to the wise.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives.
If the righteous receive their due on earth,
how much more the ungodly and the sinner!
Proverbs 29:1-2 (NIV)
Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes
will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.
In Ezekiel 17 God prepares the Israelites for the coming failures of the kings’ who will rule their land. God gives the prophet an allegory to tell the people so they will remember that regardless of who holds power over the land, he is still in control. At the end of the chapter Ezekiel 17 says:
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “‘I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NIV)
These commentary summaries are helpful to further understand the allegory in Ezekiel 17:
“As plainly as he could declare it, Ezekiel showed that Judah’s political disaster was traceable to moral weakness and deceit. When once the hand was given in token of agreement, that word should have been all the bond needed.” (Feinberg)
Yahweh remains sovereign over history. When his people experience calamity, his hand is in it. When foreign nations sweep down on them, they come as his agents. No nation has ever become so powerful that he cannot bring it down in a moment; and no people is so low that he cannot exalt it.” (Block)
“The chapter began with judgment and punishment; it ends with mercy and grace. The dethroned and blind Zedekiah is overshadowed by God’s King who is full of power and glory. Kingdoms are but the lengthened shadows of kings.” (Feinberg)
Ezekiel assures the Israelites God is in control regardless of the king ruling the land. We don’t live under the rule of a king in the United States, but we do have laws we don’t always like. I believe we can apply this promise from God to our lives as well.
When we align with God, regardless of the ruler, we will thrive. This isn’t permission to break the law.
Romans 13:1-10 “makes it abundantly clear that we are to obey the government God places over us. God created government to establish order, punish evil, and promote justice (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Romans 12:8). We are to obey the government in everything—paying taxes, obeying rules and laws, and showing respect. If we do not, we are ultimately showing disrespect towards God, for He is the One who placed that government over us.”
The next question is “Is there a time when we should intentionally disobey the laws of the land?” The answer to that question may be found in Acts 5:27-29, “Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name,’ he said. ‘Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’“ From this, it is clear that as long as the law of the land does not contradict the law of God, we are bound to obey the law of the land. As soon as the law of the land contradicts God’s command, we are to disobey the law of the land and obey God’s law. However, even in that instance, we are to accept the government’s authority over us. This is demonstrated by the fact that Peter and John did not protest being flogged, but instead rejoiced that they suffered for obeying God (Acts 5:40-42).Got Questions (emphasis mine)
How do we Thrive?
The answer to this question from a “results” aspect will vary for everyone. When our minds and actions stray from living a life aligned with God our Spiritual lives will dry up like a desert. Since aligning with God isn’t about choosing whether to follow the laws of the government, then we can conclude thriving includes aligning our hearts with God’s boundaries.
Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). During his time on earth, he drew lines between his role and that of the disciples. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who took the burden of purification off our shoulders. Jesus assigned the disciples jobs once they were living under a new covenant. Matthew 5:13 and 14 include part of this calling when Jesus told the crowd gathered to hear the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth.” “You are the light of the world.”
Aligning our hearts and minds with God starts with understanding our role versus his and then choosing to embrace our role. The more we walk with God the more we will thrive.
The Choice to Thrive Mind, Body, and Soul
In 2021 my SMART goals include re-visiting, re-evaluating, and re-establishing opportunities to thrive in all the spaces of my life that are wilting. That includes my focusing on mind, body, and soul in many ways including:
- Spiritual Life
- Work and ministry goals
- Physical fitness
- Life and health organization