My Three Words Guiding 2020

jude-beck-0V_wq6o0a98-unsplashSeveral years ago the #OneWord movement began in education. This is where educators select a word that will guide them in the coming year — a focal point for their work in their next trip around the sun. Twitter is a common place for these words to be shared with other educators looking for support and inspiration for the coming year. In addition, the hashtag #OneWord2020 specifically shares chosen words for the coming year.

While this may work for other educators, focusing on a single word has not been helpful or satisfying for me. Perhaps there is a bit of a contrarian in me as well, but I feel the need to expand from one word in order to provide me the guidance I need for 2020. An educator I follow and admire, Dr. Bernard Bull, also has chosen three words for the year and has done this for years in the past, as you can see from his post.

I too feel that three words provide appropriate guidance for the year better than a single word. One reason for this is that the word “faith” is so important to me that it leaves little room for other explorations. “Faith” is a word that is a constant focus of mine as a Christ-follower, so for this process to work for me, I feel the need to move beyond #OneWord.

Each of the words I have selected for 2020 have multiple layers on which I can build, with God’s help, a productive service-oriented 2020. You will see that below as I explain each word choice. So here are my three words for 2020:



As a Christian, I feel this word MUST be the first focus of any year. Satan seeks to destroy all that we do, but especially our relationship with God, and since this relationship has not just earthly but eternal consequences, faith continues to be my first word. Here are some ways I intend to carry this out:

  • Regular daily Bible readings. I find that I can read the entire Bible in about nine months if a read a few chapters a day from three different places in Scripture. Right now my readings are from Numbers, Psalms, and Acts. Also, I am compelled by the words of Acts 17:11, where the Bereans were counted as being nobler because they eagerly studied the entire Scriptures. They were better able to fully comprehend who God is and what He has done through a diligent and repeated study of all the Scriptures. This is what I desire for myself as well.
  • Praying for others is a privilege that I have as a believer. I will continue to ask others for requests and lift up our faith community and world before the Lord.
  • I will also, along with daily Bible readings, study other resources as well. Right now I am working through The Lutheran Difference: An Explanation and Comparison of Christian Beliefs.
  • I will continue to seek out new strategies and sources for leading my Theology I (Old Testament) class.
  • The list above may sound like this is my work, but I know myself, and the ability to do these things well ebbs and flows throughout the year. Therefore, my rest is in God’s provision to lift me up even when I am weak in accomplishing what I have shared above, trusting that He has the ability to work through my weaknesses for His glory.



One of the things I have noticed about life is that it is much easier to focus on myself and my needs and wants now that my daughters have moved out of the house. A focus on generosity was easy when they were around. I continue to desire to be generous toward them, but generosity is far less of a daily focus without their regular presence.

Generosity, in my mind, is more than giving tangible things. There are many facets to generosity. Here are some ways I intend to explore this word in 2020:

  • Better organize our family’s personal finances so we are in a better position to be generous with the gifts God has given us.
  • Focusing less on self and more on others.
  • I think I have done a pretty good job of being generous with my time with students and families, but I certainly seek to continue that process.
  • I desire to be more generous with other educators and professionals. Writing more regularly is one way to be able to do that. My blog has lagged over the past year. Generosity in sharing what God has allowed me to learn and experience for the benefit of others is a significant move forward for generosity in the coming year. This writing and sharing may not be solely based on blog writing but other types of writing and sharing as well.
  • Give, give, give — of time, talents, and treasure.



I admit it — I am challenged with the empty nest phase of life. So much of my time and energy was placed into raising and supporting my three daughters, and even though they have all been out of the house for over two years now, I still feel that void. But it came to me that perhaps the opportunity God has opened for me to address this void is to explore — both personally and professionally. Here are some of the ways I see the word explore being addressed in the coming year.

  • There is so much to explore professionally. I seek to be an active educational explorer through reading, study, experimentation, and engagement in professional communities. This exploration may also open doors for me to be more generous with what I have learned and experienced.
  • I am blessed to live in one of the most beautiful states in our nation — Colorado. There is so much to explore in this state and the Denver area. I started that process for 2020 yesterday by visiting the Clyfford Still Museum (see image of a work from this museum below) in the city. Two days earlier, on New Year’s Eve, I explored Sloan’s Lake in Denver and took a brisk walk around the lake. New experiences and new places are a large part of this desired exploration.
  • My exploration will also seek to embrace my many other interests — Denver history, baseball research, genealogy research, cooking, the outdoors, etc.




So there are my words — faith, generosity, explore. Weekly I will seek to reflect upon how these words have guided me. You, dear reader, may also be a part of this process, questioning and challenging me, helping me hone these ideas in their service to others and embracing the life with which I have been gifted by God.

Do you have a reflective process by which you plan for the coming year? If so, is it choosing a word or words or some other process that works for you? Feel free to share your ideas as a comment to this post. Let’s work together to build each other up in 2020. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and God bless us, everyone!



Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Photo of the Clyfford Still painting is my own




2 thoughts on “My Three Words Guiding 2020

  1. Jim Mulford

    Thank you for sharing this, Dave. I love your three words and how the Lord is guiding your focus and priorities. Having experienced the empty nest syndrome when our three daughters left home, the focus on exploring makes imminent sense. I have found that the exploring opens up new opportunities for sharing that exploring with my wife.


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