vs. Unresponsiveness
Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it

Key Verse

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
ROMANS 12:21

The operational definition of initiative is “recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I am asked to do it.” How can you recognize what needs to be done? First of all, remember what is expected of you and fully complete your assignments. Then, if you notice something that you should do, don’t wait to be told to do it! Can you discern what should be done and do it before Mom asks you to? When you are told to do a task and you do it, that is obedience. Doing what you should before you are told is initiative. After you promptly fulfill your responsibilities, look around and consider other ways God might want you to help or to offer a creative solution. The Lord may even use your cheerful willingness to rally others to action! When everyone takes initiative, the whole day goes better because schoolwork and chores can be accomplished more efficiently, and other practical needs can be met, such as refilling the toilet paper holder, folding laundry, or sharpening pencils.

Canada geese illustrate initiative by taking turns to break the wind and lead the flock in a “V” formation.
Unresponsiveness on a heart monitor reveals a serious medical situation, just as unresponsiveness to God and others reveals a lack of health in the Body of Christ.

The opposite of initiative is unresponsiveness. Unresponsiveness describes someone who is not communicating or taking action. Could you imagine the devastation that would result if firefighters did not respond to calls for help? Someone who is unresponsive ignores the needs around him and the promptings God gives him. He may be distracted, focused on something else, or selfishly ignoring people because he doesn’t feel like helping. Perhaps he is lazy and waits for someone else to act or lead. He may lack the desire, energy, and resolve needed to put helpful, good ideas into action. To overcome unresponsiveness, he can repent and ask God to bring needs to his attention and give him the motivation and commitment to follow His lead.

Evaluation Questions

  • Are seeking the Lord and prayer the first priorities of my day?
  • In a strained relationship, do I take initiative to ask forgiveness and seek reconciliation?
  • How have I allowed distractions, urgent matters, or entertainment to interfere with my responsibilities?
  • When faced with difficulties, do I easily give up or promptly search for a solution?
  • Have I taken initiative to invest in the lives of my younger brothers and sisters?
  • Do I complete the daily chores assigned to me before being asked, or do I need to be reminded?
  • Have I displayed initiative by creating a list of people and their needs and then praying for those people?
  • When I take initiative, do I think ahead and consider the possible outcomes and impact on others?
  • Can others rely on me to lead well when they don’t know what to do?

More About Initiative

Initiative is carrying out the will of God by being in tune with the heart of God.
Transformation results as we behold the Lord and yield to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18). As we see God’s character through testimonies in Scripture, we grow in our understanding and obedience to His Word. Here are ten aspects of Initiative with supporting verses found in God’s Word.

God enables me to:


Seek His direction.

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” Psalm 143:8

Be self-motivated to do what is right.

“Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Look for ways to help others.

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10

Prepare before I act.

“Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.” Proverbs 24:27

Be part of His solution to a problem.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:13–15

Ask, “How can I help?”

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.” Proverbs 3:27

Contribute to the success of the whole team.

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15–16

Act promptly.

“Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.” Proverbs 3:28

Make no excuses to delay my work.

“And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59–60

Make the most of every opportunity.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

Initiative in Scripture

Rebekah Swiftly Welcomes a Visitor

“And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.”
Genesis 24:19
Abraham and Sarah were very old when God kept His promise to give them a son. They named their baby “Isaac.” The couple rejoiced, knowing that God would continue to fulfill His covenant with Abraham through Isaac. After Isaac turned forty years old, an important task remained: finding him a wife. Abraham called his chief servant and entrusted him with the task of finding a bride. The woman must not come from the ungodly Canaanites living nearby but from among Abraham’s own people. Gathering camels and provisions, the faithful servant departed on the long journey. One day as evening drew near, he arrived just outside the city of Nahor, where Abraham’s relatives lived. Stopping at a well, the servant prayed that God would show him the right bride for Isaac. Aware that women would soon come to draw water from the well, the servant prayed that the right young lady would offer him a drink . . . and also volunteer to draw water for his camels! What would happen even before the servant finished praying? How would God answer his prayer? Who would see the need and volunteer to water all the thirsty camels? Would she act promptly and cheerfully to complete the huge task?

Revealed in Nature

Whistling Swan

The older whistling swan shows initiative by taking the lead in a flock’s “V” formation. As other swans follow the leader’s example and take turns breaking the wind, a flock is able to fly 30 percent farther than if each swan flew alone.

For Kids

Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum

The Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum uses examples from the lives of men and women in the Bible whose walk with God resulted in good character or whose lack of faith produced poor character. Through this study, children are encouraged to act promptly, wisely, and appropriately when they see needs around them.

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Free Resources for Initiative

Enjoy these selections from the Biblical Character Illustrated Curriculum that are fun and memorable!

Bible Story Coloring Page
Verse & Definition Word Search
Related Hymn Sheet Music
“It is an erroneous notion that you have to wait for the call of God: see that you are in such a condition that you can realize it.”
Oswald Chambers