My Word for the Year

In recent years, I have noticed the practice of choosing “a word of the year.” A variety of linguists and diverse organizations look back upon the previous year, and each selects a word that best reflects the predominant social or political issues they observed. Most often I am less than encouraged to be reminded of our culture’s preoccupations and agendas.

I have also noticed the practice of choosing a word for the year. Rather than looking back and assessing, those who choose such a word look forward with a specific aspiration. I love fresh starts and a posture of expectancy, so I find this practice much more inspirational and helpful.

Therefore, I have chosen my word for the year 2020: persevere.


In fall 2019, our small group read through the New Testament in eight weeks, using the Community Bible Experience curriculum. While it was challenging to find the time to read and absorb large portions of Scripture daily, I appreciated the broad perspective I began to develop as I noticed recurring themes. One that resonated strongly with me was perseverance. Over the past several weeks, I have taken time to consider what God might want to reveal and how He might want to inform my understanding of what perseverance could look like in my life. This is what I have discovered.

Phrases such as “don’t give up” and “don’t shrink back” encourage me. I don’t want to give in to despair or lose ground in my journey with Jesus and others. I want to keep looking and moving forward, holding on to the good news of the gospel in my daily life. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus also declares that in Him I may have peace. (See John 16:33.)

So, what will perseverance look like for me? Where do I begin? I have set before me the positive, active statements found in the apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

I am also taking a fresh look at the life of Moses, particularly the years he led God’s people in their wilderness wanderings. I have been inspired by Moses’ bold statements to God, which include, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” and “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Exodus 33:13,15). . .which leads me to the gentle reminder that accompanies the call to persevere.

Draw Near

I cannot persevere without the regular counsel of Scripture and the active presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. Jesus clearly invites us to come to Him in our weakness and inability (see Matthew 11:28–29). Each day, we have opportunity to receive from Jesus what we need. I most often find myself asking for His love, joy, and peace as I navigate the frustrations and uncertainties of daily life. I do not need to manufacture strength, courage, or goodness from my own resources. Draw near, admit your need, and receive. I can persevere as I draw near. When I remember that I am not alone in this journey, when I remember that Jesus walks with me, when I practice the disciplines of reading His Word and talking to Him in prayer, my heart is encouraged, and my resolve is strengthened. I am never alone. Scripture declares that God is working in me, giving me both the desire and the power to do what pleases Him (see Philippians 2:13).

We are entering 2020 with some distinct challenges. The ministry of Alliance Women is still in transition—we have been set free from outdated structure and practices and have been given the opportunity to explore what God has for us next. But we also find ourselves still awaiting clarity and direction as we experience a bit of our own “wilderness wanderings.”

This is the nature of transitions. Let’s be patient with each other and persevere. Together, let’s look to the One who has promised to never leave us and say, like Moses, “Teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.”

Let’s persevere, draw near, and receive from Him all that we need for 2020. “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).


Jen Vogel

Jen served as national director for Alliance Women from 2015-2023; she serves in a variety of ministry capacities, including on the President's Cabinet for The Alliance. She enjoys reading, travel, and completing the New York Times crossword puzzle daily. Jen and her husband, Doug, attend Dover Avenue Alliance Church in Orange City, Iowa.

15 Responses to “My Word for the Year”

  1. Jen: your message is so encouraging to me as we begin this new year of growth, challenge, and journeying together. Praying for you.

  2. It’s interesting that you used the phrase “set free” in your article, as it’s our national project theme. Yes, Alliance Women have been set free and given a fresh start to do ministry differently and hopefully more efficiently with more women participating. I can’t think of a better woman to be at the helm at this crucial time. May God bless you and your team and give you all wisdom.

    • Thank you, Gloria, for your kind words and affirmation. I will always have fond memories of our time together in Hawaii, especially visiting with your dad in the hospital. You have been a consistent source of encouragement for many.

  3. Thank you, Jen for sharing. I appreciate the fact that this sheds light on to how I can intentionally pray for you. Intentional was my word one year but this year I have chosen, SEEK. I was going to choose WAIT but in order to wait, I must seek first. Praying for you as you go through 2020!

  4. I started choosing “One Little Word” in 2014. My OLW this year is ‘faithful.’ HE is is faithful – and I want to be more faithful. Excited to see how the Lord brings that word into focus throughout the year!

  5. Amen, Sister in Christ! What exciting words to read from your heart. I had chosen “Joy” or “Choose Joy” for my word(s) for 2019. After reading your blog I am sensing from the Spirit that i also should choose “persevere” for my 2020 word. It makes sense in view of how God has been speaking to me all thru last year and now into the new year. So many times i have been tempted to give up; but God is faithful – He is not giving up on me! I am reminded of Phil. 1:6: “…He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” – i really need that assurance! Thank God He is true to His character. And thank you for these timely words! Linda Reynhout

  6. I appreciate you sharing your journey with us and your transparency. May God continue to make His way known as you seek Him and persevere.

    • Thank you, Lisa. I have fond memories of the months we journeyed together in the ministry of Alliance Women.

  7. Jen, great Word for this year! As we sing with our Crossroads kids…
    “My God is so BIG
    So strong and so mighty
    There’s nothing our God cannot do.”

    Supernaturally persevering reflects Him well to our culture more than words can say.
    God bless you, young lady.

  8. How appropriate, Jen. There are many challenges that we face in times of transition. May you persevere in the huge task ahead!

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