As we flip the calendar over from what has been a very challenging and unique year, we lean extra hard into the hope, new opportunities, and fresh starts that always come with a New Year. 2021 is here and the editorial staff of NewReleaseToday took some time to share their word that will hopefully sum up the next twelve months and a few thoughts and reflections on what's to come. And of course, because we're a Christian Music site, we threw in some inspirational videos into the mix.
Kevin McNeese, Founder Word For 2021: Consistency
2020 seemed like a giant upheaval of, well, everything. There are the obvious items like social schedules, the kid's education, and sports activities, and church routines to more personal effects like mental health, spiritual practices, and physical activity. It just seemed every corner of life was impacted by the global pandemic, and for many months, I didn't handle it well. A new normal will hopefully give way to comfortable routines soon, but there's certainly been a bigger embrace of upheaval these last few months. My hope is that I can find consistency through it all and that God will continue to be the known and comfortable thread that holds it all together.
Paul Phillips, Executive Editor Word for 2021: Integrity and Grace COVID-19 has brought forth a very important trait for all of us: integrity. We have a new measuring stick when it comes to measuring integrity. For every action, we measure people's integrity by asking are people wearing masks? Are they social distancing? Are they traveling? Are they pushing back, purposely violating lockdown or other bylaws? Trust me, we all ask these questions, not to mention we all–even without intention–break the rules and expectations. The question we have to ask is: how can we show people grace during this hard time? It's hard for me. I've told people at the post office or grocery store to put on their masks or social distance. I continue to judge others in this space. However, we're not the judge or the jury. Let us practice showing grace while maintaining boundaries and staying true to what we preach. Worry about you.
Kevin Davis, Lead Contributor Word for 2021: Focus
I was very inspired by the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown to focus on "the disciplined pursuit of less." Throughout the book, McKeown defines the mindset of an "essentialist" as one who moves from thinking they can be "all things to all people" to choosing "less but better," from saying "yes" to people without really thinking to saying "no" to everything but the essential, and transforms from living a life that does not satisfy to living a life that really matters. In the book's appendix, McKeown references that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sees "fewer things done better" as the most powerful mechanism for leadership. He uses the acronym FCS (aka FOCUS) to teach his philosophy to his employees. The letters stand for "Fewer things done better," "Communicating the right information to the right people at the right time," and "Speed and quality of decision making." My plan for the year is to focus, with an essentialist-minded and disciplined pursuit of "fewer things done better," putting my word "focus" into daily practice.
Jake Frederick, Host of NRT Now Podcast Word For 2021: Perspective
The year 2020 will be remembered in the history books as a once in a generation dumpster fire. A pandemic, racial tensions, politics, and...murder hornets? There was a multitude of voices vying for our attention and allegiance, well past the point of overwhelming. We heard voices that said you're not a [fill-in-the-blank] if you believe that or don't believe this. Identities were tied to what camps we joined for the issues and we were told that those who were not in our camps were enemies. I spent most of 2020 in an unhealthy dance between joy and stress, depending on what voices I allowed myself to listen to. It reached a breaking point when the stress was beyond dominant and I realized that my biggest problem was not what was happening, it was how it was being colored and how much of it I invested in. I figure perspective is a big word that describes that, and hopefully makes me sound a little smart as well. I'm finding that fruits of the spirit follow Godly perspectives. Joy follows a perspective that God is still king and working no matter what's happening around us. Peace follows a Matthew 6:34 perspective, not worrying about the future because the present has enough to worry about, and what we fear about the future is not guaranteed. Love follows the perspective that everyone is God's creation and loved by him. Kindness and gentleness follow a perspective that people experience life differently and are shaped differently because of this, we should seek to understand one another instead of focusing on differences. My heart for the next year is to continue to make Godly perspectives my default.
JJ Francesco, Contributor Word for 2021: Recalibration We all had a lot of plans and resolutions for 2020 at this time last year. It was going to be a banner year to have big life events. I think it's safe to say unless you got everything done in the first 10 weeks of the year, 2020 drastically upended your plans. While the flip of a calendar alone is itself arbitrary, a new year tends to always bring a clean slate. For everything about 2020 we want to see banished to the dark corners of history books, there's a chance to turn it into growth. So as we head into 2021 with the hope of a return to something resembling normal, I hope we use the trials and disappointments of 2020 as a chance to learn about how we can't take anything for granted. We got off track with a global pandemic; we short-circuited a bit. So let's recalibrate. 2020 is over and 2021 holds a universe of promise. God's promises are new each morning, and especially so at the start of each year. Let's let God use the trials of 2020 as a springboard to recalibrate us for our best year yet.
Ryan Adams, Rock/Metal Contributor Word for 2021: Hope
I remember at the end of 2019, as with most end-of-year posts, my social media was full of hope for what the year 2020 would bring. People were firm, stating things like "This is gonna be my year!" or "2020 is going to be a year of change for me!" Well, 2020 did bring change, but not the kind we like. A lot of difficult, hurtful change, for my family too. At the end of 2020, my social media was not full of hope. A lot of people have lost hope. In 2021, I want to be a hope-bringer. Whether it be through the music I share with NRT, relationships with people, or whatever else God may use, I want to bring hope everywhere I go. And that starts with me. I need to remain hopeful, trusting in the Lord's ultimate plan and following it. I hope you will join me in being a hope-bringer to a world that desperately needs more hope after a difficult year in 2020. (See Matthew 5:13-16)
Grace Chaves, Contributor, Instagram Manager Word for 2021: Possibility
2020 was a year that was filled with a lot of challenges, but looking back, it was a year that brought a lot of new opportunities. It seems that every time challenges arise, a chance to grow comes with it. Although 2020 was hard, I was able to see God work out my challenges for good. The grinding trials of life make us stronger, and this year was no exception. That's why I'm believing that this new year will be a year of possibility, both for myself and for our generation. There's an endless amount of possibilities and outcomes that 2021 could bring, but regardless of what happens, I know that God will be with us through it all. Let's choose to keep our eyes open to what God might have in store for us in this new year. Let's listen closely to what God wants to say to us.
Mark Ryan, Contributor Word for 2021: Confidence
2020 left me doubting at times. Doubting that the pandemic would end, doubting if I had it in me to excel in my career, doubting if I was worth it. As the calendar turns I found myself thinking about confidence. Not so much as self-confidence, but confidence in the Word of God. If we can walk out this year being confident in the Word of God, confident in His opinion of us, and confident in His promises whatever comes at us will fall to the wayside because we have been called to be confident and we are walking that out daily.
Brendan Burke, Contributor Word for 2021: Journey
Journey is defined as an act of traveling from one place to another. This is true because I plan on journeying with my friends this year on a trip for the end of college, but the real reason I chose this word is to discover more of who I am and who God wants me to be. Pat Buckley once said, "I believe that life is a journey towards God and that no one has the right to insist that you go a certain road." This year, I want to take a journey from reading devotionals to exploring myself deep down and finding more out about me. I want to find out what God wants to do in my life and how I can continue to grow as a better person. I plan to use my skills, strengths, and everything that God has given me to take this adventure through myself. "The journey is never-ending. There's always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what's right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment." –Antonio Brown
Joshua Galla, Urban/CHH Contributor Word for 2021: Restoration
2020 was a whirlwind of negative vibes from March through the present day. Cancellations. Closures. Stay at home orders. Overall switch to digital and virtual life. Life as we knew it was put on hold. So for 2021, I'd like to witness some adjusted return and restoration of normal. On a more personal note, I'm advocating for a restoration of my faith, discipline, and personal relationship with Christ. Ever since proclaiming my personal rebirth in Christ over 20 years ago, my faith timeline has been a roller coaster. Never steady nor constant. I've returned to regular studying the bible and falling more in love with Jesus. In 2021, I want to see restoration for our society as well as my individual faith.
Selena Schulz, Contributor Word For 2021: Surrender
When 2020 was thrown at us, a lot of people (well, all of us) didn't know what to do. Our hearts wanted everything to be "normal" again, but our minds knew the reality of quarantining to stay safe. I was definitely here myself. As I ran around in a hurry, trying to sort everything out, I forgot that the best thing to do is to just give it up to God. It took me more than half the year to reach this conclusion, but when I finally surrendered, the freedom I felt was surreal. I know a lot of us learned lessons in 2020, and my prayer is that we will carry these over into 2021. Don't simply ditch last year because it was hard. Reflect on it and acknowledge how you can grow. Unfortunately, our situation isn't entirely gone with the ringing in of the new year which is why we must continually apply surrender. Many things are still out of our control and can lead to anxiety. But if we surrender to God and give up the weight of our burdens, we can begin to feel peace again. We have to trust Him to lead us through this tunnel to the light on the other side. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
Bradden Ford, Contributor, Database Manager Word For 2021: Majesty
Throughout 2020, so much has become revealed to us. From our viewpoints and opinions to our own thoughts and purpose that we have. Even though all the craziness we've seen in this world, in our own lives we've seen the need for Jesus more than ever before. Despite the darkness seen, God was moving and opening our eyes to who He truly is. That He is our Savior, Redeemer, Breakthrough, Healer, and our Everything. As we lay it all down and fix our eyes on Him, He brings His restoring life in every part of us. Jesus is here, He loves us, He's calling us to lift our head to see His glory rising above the pain of this world. 2021, no matter what in this world may happen, Jesus is over it all. God is majestic, and leads us all to receive His glory; for He loves us. Let's join together in surrender, prayer, and the awakening revival of our unshakeable God.
Assembled from the four corners of North America and beyond, the NRTeam is comprised of staffers whose energy is equally dispersed towards loving music and writing about the music they love.
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