Focusing On Formation
by Karin Sasser

The end of one year and the beginning of the next often seems like a good time for some self-reflection. If we aren’t intentional about examining who we are becoming and what is molding and influencing us, we often fall into all the trappings of the kingdom of this world. There is so much truth in the quote, “We become what we behold.” For this reason, we need to make time and space to reflect on what captures our eyes, thoughts, and attention. This gives us the opportunity to refocus and consider who we are becoming and how we can position ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to do his redemptive work in and through us. Hopefully, you were able to use our toolbox item for December and take some time for a personal retreat to do some of this work. If not, we would encourage you to do so! 

If you’ve had a chance to watch the youth leader video we sent you this month, you’ve heard about a tool that can help you focus on what the Lord wants to do in and through you throughout the year. It is called My One Word. Mike Ashcraft, Pastor of Port City Community Church, felt like the task of making New Year’s resolutions was fruitless and decided he wanted to focus more on who he was becoming rather than what he was or wasn’t doing. God led him to journal about who he wanted to become. Yet rather than focusing on negative behaviors that he needed to change and turning them into a list of resolutions to do better, he focused on casting a vision of the positive things. He wanted to see God produce in him. Behavior modification was not his goal – character formation was. To choose a word, you list characteristics of the person you want to become, pray over them, reduce and define them, and allow God to lead you to one that resonates most. You then use the word as your lens through which you read scripture, tackle problems, deal with people, etc., throughout the year. 


Instead of allowing your attention to be drawn in a million different directions when it comes to your spiritual formation, it allows you to narrow the focus to just one word you can use as you consider what God is trying to fashion in you.


As a youth leader, this is a great tool to use with both your leaders and your students. Leading your leaders through what My One Word is could be a great training opportunity for you. It also gives you an opening to touch base with them about their own spiritual life as a great conversation starter about what word they chose, why, and how God is using it. It’s a great way to remind them of the importance of their own walk with God, as they have been charged to help students walk with God too.


My One word can be used with students as well. It affords them the opportunity to take ownership of their own faith and provides them with a means to consider who they want to become and how they would like to see God work in their lives. It provides for meaningful discussion between leaders and students as they talk about how they hope God will use their word, how God is using their word, or how their word can help them in different circumstances in their lives.


Some of the content from this post and more can be found in Mike’s book My One Word and on My One Word’s website If this is a tool you think will be helpful for yourself and your ministry, we encourage you to check them out. Also, check out the toolbox item for this month to help you choose a word. We hope you will consider adapting it to be used with your students as well!