Each year Amanda and I choose a single word as our theme for the year. Most of the time we already have a feeling of what the word will be and it takes us a moment to vocalize the word and agree.
Our theme word from past years reflected what we were going through or working towards. In 2010 Amanda’s word was Compassion. In 2011 we didn’t choose a word because it was a very tough season for us. The word for 2012 was Stronger because we wanted to get stronger spiritually, physically, and in our work.
Last year, 2013, our word was Hustle because we knew that hustle was the only way we would become debt free by our 10 year wedding anniversary on November 1st. Given our slow progress on debt reduction being out of debt by that date was a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious, goal), but we made it!
After some discussion and looking out at the next year we decided our word for 2014 is Global.
Global vs. Local
Amanda and I are leaders and have served in leadership on our own and together. During the past few years in order to work towards our goals we have reduced the number of areas where we served. With a growing family and business we hit limits of the amount of time and energy we had to offer. We recognized our limits and so want our limited energy to be focused where it will be most effective.
In a blog post Derek Sivers described how someone can focus their time either locally or globally.
Local is one focus:
If you’re local, then you’re probably social, doing a lot of things in-person, and being a part of your community. But this means you’ll have less time to focus on creating things for the world.
Global is different:
If you’re global, then you want to focus on creating things that can reach out through distribution to the whole world. But this means you’ll have less time to be part of your local community.
Sivers is not saying one is better than the other, but there is a conscious choice to be made for which you focus on and that we usually carry an inclination toward one or the other. Also, the choice need not be 100% one sided, but one can be the majority.
For 2014 we are choosing to focus more of our time, talent and energy globally in the following ways.
With every fiber of our being we want to be Digital Tentmakers. This is a strange desire because we don’t know anyone who is a digital tentmaker, nor do we know exactly what that term means. But for the past several years we have had a yearning to do something that is different than what we have known. It’s only been in the past 18 months where we put the name ‘Digital Tentmaking’ on it.
This year we will finally be able to start slow traveling as a family. We’ll finally be able to see if it is possible to run a business online while living and serving overseas. We don’t know if this will work nor what it will look like, but we need to find out.
When I was six or seven years old I was known by two words: “But why?” When my family retells the story they use a high-pitched and slightly whiny voice of a child. But these questions don’t go away when we become adults. The underlying drive of this question is that I wanted to know more. Why can’t we do that? Why did they make those choices? Why are things the way they are?
There’s only so much you can learn about the world by reading news articles, books or websites. We want to slow travel and learn more about other people and cultures. We want to know the ‘why.’
I said that we don’t know anyone who is a digital tentmaker, but we know of many people who are digital nomads and others who are long term missionaries. Both of these groups have similarities to what we envision for digital tentmaking. Although it is possible to connect with someone over Skype, there is an entirely different sort of power to connecting over a meal or spending a week in the same town.
We haven’t met many people like us locally so we’re going to venture out to find them in the world.
And one more BHAG
And what would an annual focus word be without one more BHAG? The mission statement for Life With A Mission is to “Inspire Christians to become debt free, be location independent, and serve the world.”
I often ask Amanda: What would it look like for there to be a group of 100 or more digital tentmaker families ready to serve the world?
If there was a natural disaster or need this group could say, ‘We have the time, talent and resources to move into this hurting community for a year or more and help it rebuild.’
They would have a heart of service so when there is a need they would step up to help. They would be debt free and would have the ability to give significant financial resources. They would have internet businesses to sustain themselves so as not to be a burden to the community they are serving. They would be location independent so could be physically present for as long as rebuilding takes.
We want to know what that looks like.