Tuesday, December 11, 2012


If someone were to ask me about the characteristics of an ideal church leader, initiative would be at the top of my list.  There are people who make things happen, people who watch things happen, and people who ask, “What just happened?”  Leaders make things happen.
Things don’t happen without someone taking initiative.  Let me repeat:  Things don’t happen without someone taking initiative.  This is especially true in church.  In What Leaders Do I break it down like this:  Leaders see what needs to be done (they see both current reality and a preferable future), and do what needs to be done (they enlist others and follow through).  To reverse engineer this, if something needs to be done, and it isn’t getting done, it’s because someone isn’t taking initiative.  Someone isn’t leader.  They are either watching things happen, or wondering what is happening.
Initiative has to come from within a person.  It can be encouraged, but not created, by others.  For some inner reason, people of initiative actually care about what is going on.  They take responsibility for results.  They activate themselves and others to grow, build, develop, expand.  They have goals.  They have aspirations.  They cannot abide the status quo.  Whatever they are looking at, they are thinking about how to expand it and improve it.  Growing ministries are led by such types.
In a grace-based, relational ministry I sometimes fear that people get the wrong idea:  I don’t have to work hard…it’s all love here.  Grace both inspires us and frees us up to do the right kind of work, in the right kind of way.  Love, acceptance and forgiveness is how we do the work, but not the work itself.  The work itself is outreach.  The work itself is disciple-making, the hardest work of all.  “Loving” is not work.  Actually inviting, including, involving people – that’s work.  We may do it because of love, and we should.  But the work will not grow without someone actually doing the work of setting up meetings, replying to emails, making phone calls, writing job descriptions, training leaders, etc.
It is the ultimate dream to build an expanding team of people who take the highest initiative for God, his church, his people.  In this regard, there are levels of initiative, from lowest to highest:
1) wait until told 
2) ask what to do
3) recommend what to do
4) act but inform

One of the statements our value of empowerment makes is, “We are encouraging high initiative of everyone.”  Among pastors, staff and directors, levels 3) and 4) are required. 
In the parable of the talents, various servants were entrusted with opportunity.  God was only upset with the one who did nothing; the one who seemingly had to be told what to do.