I love the word “initiative.” Initiative is the first step toward something.
Practically, a step toward a solitary person who you see standing awkwardly in the gym—among so many parents, grandparents, and teachers, yet talking with no one—where all of our kids are singing for the annual Christmas Concert.
It’s a phone call to initiate an uncomfortable conversation with the person whose words earlier in the week stung, delivered in a casual, off-handed way, leaving you wondering, “Where did that come from?”
It’s bending over to pick up a piece of trash—the same crumpled up, discarded fast food paper bag I just watched 8 people walk right past, from across the parking lot.
It’s my colleague poring over the Excel spreadsheet because he has a hunch something doesn’t look right, staring at it a long time, until he finally sees the mistake. And that “catch” is going to save the company tens of thousands of dollars–my smart colleague who also has a lot of initiative.
Initiative is also the motivation behind every new invention, technology improvement, safer way to do something. It’s not an overstatement to say that initiative is responsible for a lot of the best things we have in life.
I also think initiative is the thing that evens the score with the ground…that cursed ground that we talked about in the last two blogs. Initiative solves the problems before they come up, it pulls up the weeds and rocks before the seeds go in. When you and I become people with initiative, there are fewer thorns and thistles in our field.
That’s why Kathy and I–in addition to teaching our kids to think about the quality of their work and the attitude they have when they work–are also emphasizing the importance of them becoming people who take the initiative. They take the first step.
Toward a lonely person. Toward resolving a dispute. Toward a piece of trash blowing along the ground. Toward solving a problem at the place they work. Toward a dream they have for making the world safer, more interesting or efficient or productive.
You can also think of initiative as “leading action.” People with initiative are leaders, whether they see themselves that way or not.
They take the step before anyone else does.
Sometimes they take a step when no one else will. Maybe never.
But they do.
The 2:10 Project is a book and online activities designed to help a person “discover their place in God’s story.” It’s for people with initiative–or at least wanting to develop initiative. That’s a good description of me, in fact; I am working to become more and more a person of initiative.
What we are convinced of is this: If you and I take the initiative to seek God, learn about how He has wired us and gifted us, consider how our abilities and skills may benefit others, and take the time to pray, reflect, walk with others purposefully into our calling…then we will be men and women of action.
Probably not overnight. Likely it will take great effort. But we will be men and women through whom amazing things happen–outcomes we couldn’t come up with on our own. God-inspired, God-led, God-resourced results.
We will become men and women who are known as having a very important quality—Initiative. Men and women who take the first step.
May God give us the faith to take the first step.