Stephan Tchividjian, CEO and Co-Founder, National Christian Foundation South Florida

I have grown a deep fondness for words and their meaning. I have found that when I savor words and understand their context, their origin and their usage, the impact is thought provoking, moving and sometimes very revealing. I find the mystery can be worthwhile. Words make us laugh, cry, think, re-think, learn, become angry, grow and act. We must also be very careful with words. Sometimes what one person believes to be the meaning of a word can be very different for another person. Disagreements can erupt from the misuse or misunderstanding of words. Words can be used to build, heal and reveal, and they can also be used to destroy, harm and conceal.

I have had a tradition for several years to simply ask God, each year, to reveal a word or words that can act as a compass heading for all that I do during that year. I learned this from hearing the author/speaker John Maxwell talk about his tradition. I thought to myself that it was a great idea, and I should try it. I wish I had done this earlier. Last year, for example, I had two words. Wonder and Resilience served as my Batman and Robin, Lewis and Clark, or Bono and The Edge. I appreciated how these two words worked together and provided clarity and understanding to my circumstance and situation. I often said that “wonder was the why of resilience” and that if I lost my wonder then the resilience that I endured could become laborious and overwhelming.


prutentionIn reflecting over the past year, I have had my moments of wonder and I certainly have had my moments of resilience. I specifically remember a long day hike that I took this summer. The experience provided me with a flurry of both wonder and resilience as I fondly reflect on that experience. My hike was mixed with beauty, rest, pain, endurance and breathtaking views, a great metaphor of life. I found that this year was challenging on so many fronts, and I found myself sometimes overlooking the wonder amid my resilience…the whole “hamster on a wheel” feeling. I found myself more exposed to the pain, burdens and sufferings of those around me. I am incredibly grateful that those words were part of my vocabulary for the year and eagerly have been awaiting my words for next year.


Finding a word

The process of finding a “word” for the year is quite simple for me. I become alert to words during the fourth quarter of the year and then when I hear a word that grabs my attention, I simply note it. I begin to think about it, learn more about it and see how it resonates. Sometimes people will give me words, since they know I am on the hunt. I note them as well. I try to weave the thought process into my current state of being, asking myself questions like, “how do I feel?”, “what am I seeing?”, “what am I hearing?” etc. Additionally, I make it a matter of conversation with God; it’s a topic He and I speak of regularly. There is no rush to the process, outside of the fact that I want to have it by the end of year. The entire experience is enjoyable.  I suggest you try it.


My word for this year

My word for this year is a made-up word (yep, that’s allowed) and yes, you guessed it, prutention. Two words have surfaced for this next year and when combined create my word for the year.  The word prudence and its accomplice, attention. Webster defines prudence as “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, shrewdness in the management of affairs, skill and good judgment in the use of resources and caution as to danger or risk.” Additionally, Webster defines attention as “the act or state of applying the mind to something, a condition of readiness, selective focus and receptivity, observation, notice.”

I have much to consider with these words as I begin the New Year. My wife asked me if she thought it was a warning. Good question. My thought is that we live in challenging times on all fronts. I don’t have to remind you of these challenges, some of them global, others regional, many personal, some spiritual, others economical, physical, political, philosophical and the list goes on. I know many people that are dealing with significant responsibilities that, at times, appear unrelenting and overwhelming.  Sometimes we consider giving up. I was recently speaking to a dear friend of mine who is the CEO of a large family business. He told me that he spent the weekend looking at homes to buy in the English countryside, considering giving it up and living with his family away from all the “noise”. Have you ever done that? I have (though it’s the Swiss Alps). However, God has a better plan. C.S. Lewis is quoted saying, “All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success – in vain: preparing always only the soil for unexpected, good to sprout in.” Therefore, how am I to interpret these two words of prudence and attention…prutention?


prutentionIn closing, my belief is that these words are not simply for me, but perhaps they are for us (you be the judge of that). Perhaps what God is saying is that in the midst of these challenging times He is unphased in the sense that you and I may be phased. He is not anxious, He is not afraid, He is not looking to escape or abandon mission, but He is present, and He is at peace, and He is powerful. Do you remember the wonderful story of Jesus in the boat with His disciples asleep in the storm? When Jesus was awakened His response was, “why are you so afraid, where is your faith?” I pray that I take these words to heart. I believe God is saying that in the midst of these times He will equip us/me to navigate and govern the pathway He is before us and He is simply asking us/me to be obedient, attentive, alert, disciplined, aware, present and incredibly close to Him.  Therefore, as I enter this next year, I pray that I will do so with Godly prutention.


Stephan N. Tchividjian is the CEO and co-founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit to learn more.

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