Tips and Tricks
Leaders Need Initiative
-Barth and Sally Middleton
We all know what happened on 9/11/01. What about 6/11/01? That is the day the United States Supreme Court ruled that Good News Clubs® can meet in public schools after school hours on the same terms as other community groups.
Based on that decision, CEF Director Mark Alberts met with the public school superintendent in Flint, the third-largest city in Michigan. Mark requested permission to organize a Good News Club in each elementary school district. After checking with the school attorney the superintendent gave Mark the go-ahead to use school facilities at no charge.
Although the Supreme Court ruling was favorable, public school clubs will not increase unless leaders like Mark take the initiative. Our dictionary defines initiative as “the power, ability or instinct to begin or follow through energetically with a plan or task.” Does that definition describe you as a leader? It should!
For example, when teachers and helpers are needed you are responsible to initiate contact with prospects. Most likely a note in your bulletin or newsletter won’t accomplish much. Talk with people one on one. Inspire them by citing blessings they will receive.
Obstacles to Initiative
Take action even if making contacts with strangers or trying something new is a slightly frightening prospect. Thoughts like What if the person isn’t interested? or What if my plan doesn’t work? can stop you before you get started. The prospect of failure should not prevent you from trying. Boost your resolve by memorizing Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, Psalm 27:1 and 1 Samuel 12:24. Move forward right now and look up any of those verses you cannot quote with confidence. Courage is a catalyst for action!
You may have a vision of what God wants you to do but lack a strategy. We observed a leader who was gifted in visualizing ministry possibilities. He pictured teen missionaries becoming full-time staff members, ministry costs being underwritten by new donors, current workers sent around the world for short-term service and lots more. He talked enthusiastically about his vision but stopped at the idea stage, perhaps not knowing how to proceed. His dreams remained unrealized and he drifted from one leadership position to another. Vision without strategy blocks initiative.
Beware, too, of an overdose of analysis—putting plans on hold so long that wonderful opportunities evaporate. That could have happened in Mark’s situation. Just think! Once he secured permission to enter the schools he had to find teams of teachers and helpers. They needed training so they could successfully conduct the clubs. Principals had to be contacted and start-up dates selected. Mark had to order teaching materials, publicize clubs and think about transportation issues. If he had focused only on the challenges ahead he might have avoided the superintendent’s office for years.
Secrets of Success
So how can you overcome obstacles like these? What a help it has been for us to take a few days each year to write a ministry master plan. By setting one-year and five-year goals we have a guide that helps us decide if a new opportunity fits in with what we want to achieve. We use the master plan to determine what we must do personally and what we can delegate. As leaders we can’t wait until someone motivates us to take action. The choice to get going comes from a concentrated focus on ministry objectives.
Mark’s goal was to reach a greater number of children. Instead of hoping it would happen without any effort he approached the superintendent personally. Over the last year he has discovered that initiative not only requires action at the beginning of a project, but also determination to follow through to its completion. Mark’s master plan for next year includes expansion of the public school outreach.
Leader, decide what needs to be done in your ministry, how you will do it and get going!
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