When you walk into a room and you look around, do you notice what you need to notice? Have you ever wondered why there are some people who can see things that other people just don’t see? It seems like some people just have this knack for looking around a room and noticing things that others don’t. Maybe they notice that there are three crooked pictures on the wall or three people are wearing orange shirts. Sometimes they might even notice that there’s a job to be done—like cleaning up a spilled glass of soda or emptying an overflowing trashcan. Now, what if this ability to notice things has more to do with being trained to open your eyes instead of a simple natural ability? Because when it comes down to it, seeing what needs to be done is not just about training yourself to see what’s around you; rather, it should be more about doing something about what you’ve seen.
But let’s be honest for a second, sometimes what you end up seeing are jobs that are pretty dirty, huh? Not many people like taking out the trash, cleaning up the yard after the dog has been out there, or those bathrooms that just never seem to clean themselves. But somebody’s gotta do those jobs. If they don’t, life will get pretty messy, pretty fast.
But dirty jobs aren’t just about cleaning the house. Sometimes, we see a relationship that needs to get fixed or someone that needs some encouragement. Are we really aware of what’s happening around us to take notice and take action?
The same goes for our kids. Shouldn’t we train our children to open their eyes, to be aware of their surroundings and get involved? What would happen if we started teaching our kids how to really look at the world around them and actually do something about what they see? What would it be like if our children could begin to notice things that need to be done and do them without being asked? What could happen if they look at the people in their life that need help and take the initiative to help them?
Or what about when it comes to their own life? What if they saw things that needed to be changed and changed them? These don’t have to be huge. It could be something simple like brushing their teeth or taking a bath or keeping their room clean. That’s why we’re taking this whole month to discover more about initiative.
Initiative is seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Initiative isn’t just some practical principle; it’s really a spiritual principle that starts with God. Initiative is part of God’s character. God took initiative on our behalf. When God saw our broken relationship with Him, He sent Jesus to make it right. When we show initiative, we are reflecting God’s image that is hardwired in us.
Help your kids see life in a different way. Start asking the question, “What do you see?” When you walk into a room, when you walk by someone and when you’re trying to teach children to see themselves from a different perspective, train your kids to notice things they would not ordinarily notice and encourage them to do something about what they see.
In fact, we all might pay attention a little more when we realize that we aren’t just working for our parents or our bosses but we are actually working for God. That’s why we chose Colossians 3:23a (NIrV) as our memory verse for the month. “Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord.”
To dive deeper into initiative, we’re heading back to the Old Testament to talk more about one of the greatest examples of someone taking initiative—a man by the name of Nehemiah. This month, we’ll break down the story of Nehemiah into four segments that will give kids insight into this idea of initiative.
We are going to begin with the first chapter of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was working for King Artaxerxes when his brother brought news from the exiles living in Judah. When he heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, Nehemiah was heartbroken. He recognized the huge need and before he did anything he prayed. He knew he needed God’s help.
Bottom Line: When you see something big to be done, ask God for help. We want children to understand that no matter how big or small the project, God can help them accomplish it. The first thing kids should do when faced with a task is to pray and ask God for help.
We’ll check out Nehemiah 2:1-9 and 11-18. Nehemiah took initiative and set out to fix the wall. When no one else would step, he went straight to King Artaxerxes and took action. And it’s that initiative that inspires the entire community to get involved.
Bottom Line: When you see what needs to be done, don’t wait for someone else to do it. We hope kids learn that when they see what needs to be done, they shouldn’t wait to take action. Of course there might be times that the task seems dangerous or too big to handle by themselves. Still, kids can still take initiative and ask someone they trust for help.
We will focus on a different part of Nehemiah’s story in Nehemiah 5:1-12. While everyone was building the wall, an issue arose. Some of the Israelites were severely mistreating each other. Even though Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the wall, even though he was the leader, and even though he was in charge, he stopped the building of the wall to confront the issue. He cared enough about the people to say to help them figure out a solution.
Bottom Line: When you see people in need, don’t wait for someone else to help them.When kids see people in need, we pray that they take initiative to help, instead of thinking it’s someone else’s problem.
We’ll look at several passages through Nehemiah and that throughout the whole process of building the wall, Nehemiah demonstrated some amazing truths about initiative. He demonstrated how to see what needs to be done and did it. He demonstrated how to care for others. He even demonstrated something that’s very important to recognize when talking about initiative—Nehemiah realized that the ability or strength to do what needs to be done comes from God. We cannot accomplish the task on our own. We have to lean on God to do His part as well. The most powerful part is seeing that when they did their part, God stepped in and did something that only God could do.
Bottom Line: You can trust God to help you do what needs to be done. Often when we take initiative on something big, we can’t do it on our own. We need God’s help. We want kids to know that if they do what they can do to help, God will do the rest.