Initiate: to cause or facilitate the beginning of . . .
One of my mentors from long ago use to say, “Leaders initiate.” He then would follow this by a string of examples, like, “We are the first to greet, we are the first to introduce ourselves, we are the first to notice, and we are the ones that facilitate.”
I was thinking about this over coffee this morning. One of our neighbors that are moving – the vans came and went yesterday throughout the day. These are not direct neighbors, but close enough. I realized that I didn’t know that much about these people. Really, I know nothing. You know why? I never initiated.
All the other people I know in our neighborhood – I “caused or facilitated the beginning of” a relationship. It starts with introductions, it is followed by small talk, it usually moves to small conversations at the mailbox, and a series of waves and honks. In the end, it usually is an initiation of some form of assistance (helping move something, or loaning something) or an invitation to dinner that will put the relationship to the next level.
Initiating can be tiring, initiating can be a burden, initiating isn’t always well-received, and initiating sometimes doesn’t cause or facilitate anything.
Jesus was the great initiator . . .
- “I have come, that you would have life.” John 10:10
- “Go and make disciples.” Matthew 28:20
- “While we were sinners, Jesus died for us.” Romans 5:8
- “Please may I have a drink?” John 4:8 (First words to Samaritan woman)
What about you? Do you see yourself as the person who initiates? Are you an initiator? As you walk into situations do you see how you can make a difference by initiating? Most places seem to experience a vacuum of leadership, and this void many times, is no one is willing to stand up and initiate, facilitate, or start the beginning of anything.
Here are 10 places where YOU – the INITIATOR can step in and make a difference:
- MEALS – initiate a conversation that includes everyone. Ask a question, or like our family – “spin the spoon.”
- ROLODEX – go through your address book, or contacts on phone and see all the people you know. Pick 2-3 and initiate by call, card, email, or text.
- PHOTOS – go through your photos, probably on your phone or computer. You will see lots of people you love and care about. Use these photos to bless them – send them and initiate a conversation.
- BOOKS – if you are like me, you always have a book or two you are reading. Why not pick some of your favorite books and order some extras. At some point, the time will be right; you can initiate with someone and give him or her a book. This could then also start a follow-up discussion over coffee.
- CALENDAR – Look out ahead in your calendar. Pick a few people that you have wanted to be with and get it on the calendar weeks in advance. This does two things – one, it gets you with someone you wanted to initiate with and second, it shows them you care enough to think in advance.
- FUNCTIONS – This is especially true at school functions or even in our case Scout functions. It is amazing to me how many people just stand around. Please don’t take this wrong, but my observation is people use their phone to check out. NOT YOU! Go and introduce yourself, shake a hand, and ask questions to people.
- WALKS – Marni and I walk the neighborhood a lot. We walk Bogey our sweet dog, we walk the kids to school, and we walk to the yogurt shop. Most people out there on walks don’t initiate. We have met more neighbors, we have had some great conversations, and we have been blessed by initiating. If we had not done this, no relationship would have been formed.
- CRISIS – A great way to initiate is when you know someone has some form of crisis. Bringing a meal, visiting a hospital, dropping off a gift – what a great form of initiating. This lives out the word: GO.
- SERVICE ATTENDANTS – It is amazing in one day how many people help and serve you. At a store, at a gas station, at a restaurant, or even at the health club. We need to be the initiators – check in on people, thank people, pause even for a second to look people in the face and say, “Thanks!”
- FAMILY – Don’t want the list to not include family. The list of initiating has to include times of conversation with spouses, date nights, dates with kids, reading at night, conversations in the car, and even, yes, spin the fork at a Thai restaurant like we did with Charlie last night!
There you go! You can do this! Don’t be like the world, don’t be like everyone else, be an INITIATOR and you will set yourself apart.
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world . . .” Romans 12:2
Go out there and make a difference by adding value to people’s lives!