“Who should take the initiative?” This is a common question often heard. As Christians we often have doubts as to whether we should take the initiative to do something or wait for God’s initiative. There are no easy answers.
Yet the Bible gives us a pattern in which one of the persons concerned responded to God’s initiative and the other took initiative of his own. Both the incidents occurred during times of enemy oppression. And both persons concerned used similar methods to confirm God’s will on the matter.
Thus they got direction as to what to do. And when they obeyed they got deliverance from their enemies. From these two incidents in the Bible we can know that initiative could be divine or human.
Yet the important thing is to be sure of God’s will in the matter. If directed by God’s will we can have deliverance from whatever is oppressing us.
Example 1: Gideon (Judges 6,7)
The Israelites were under the cruel oppression of the Midianites. They destroyed the crops of the Israelites time and again. The situation became unbearable. So the people cried out to God. And God sent them a prophet to remind them that it was because of their sinful ways that He had given them over to Midianite oppression.
At the same time the angel of the Lord visited a man named Gideon who was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. The angel greeted him saying, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12b NIV).
But Gideon wasn’t sure. He asked the angel why all the bad things should have happened if God was with them. But the Lord told him to go in the strength he had and save Israel out of Midian’s hands.
But Gideon had one final objection. He said that his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and that he was the least in his family. But the Lord told him that He will be with him and that he would strike down the Midianites together.
After sometime the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he gathered together the people to go to battle against the Midianites who had gathered together to attack the Israelites.
Yet Gideon was not sure. So he put a wool fleece on the ground. He told God to keep the ground dry and the wool fleece full of dew in the morning IF He would surely save Israel by his hand. God did so.
Again Gideon was not sure. So he asked God to keep the wool fleece dry and the ground covered with dew. God did so. Thus encouraged Gideon went to battle and won.
We find here a pattern emerge: We find here that God took the initiative for the deliverance of the Israelites by sending the angel of the Lord to commission Gideon for the task of delivering the Israelites.
And Gideon used the wool fleece for confirming God’s will. Thus he got clear cut direction as to go ahead with the plan of attacking. And God gave deliverance as He had promised. So we find here the pattern of Initiative » Confirmation » Direction » Deliverance.
Example 2: Jonathan (1 Samuel 13:16 to 14:23)
Here, the Israelites were under the oppression of the Philistines. They could not fight back. One of the reasons was that there was no blacksmith anywhere in Israel. This was the tactic of the Philistines so that the Israelites could not make swords or spears. So when the day of battle came only Saul and his son Jonathan had a sword and spear with them.
One day Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer that they would go over to the Philistine outpost. Nobody in the Israelite camp knew that they had left. Jonathan in his talk with the armor-bearer expressed confidence that God is not limited in His ability to save and that He can save by many or by few. The armor-bearer assured Jonathan of his full support in this venture.
And then Jonathan said that they will cross over toward the Philistines and allow them to see them. He added that IF they said to them to wait where they were they would not proceed to attack. But IF they asked them to go up to them, Jonathan said that it would be the sign that God had indeed given the Philistines into their hands.
And when both of them had shown themselves to the Philistines, the men at the outpost shouted to them to go up to them. Jonathan asked his armor-bearer to climb up after him saying that God had given the Philistines into the hands of Israel. Now they moved forward and killed around twenty men. God sent a panic into the Philistine army. Saul and his men also joined the battle. And the Lord gave victory for Israel that day.
We find here a similar pattern emerge: In this incident we find Jonathan taking the initiative to attack the Philistines. Even though there was a priest in the Israelite camp, Jonathan had not consulted God through him.
Yet he used the response of the Philistines as confirmation that God was with him in his plan. This gave him the clear direction to move forward and attack. The result was victory and deliverance for the Israelites. So we find here the pattern of Initiative » Confirmation » Direction » Deliverance.
So, “Who should take the initiative?” We have seen that God might take the initiative as in the case of Gideon. We also saw that sometimes man takes the initiative as in the case of Jonathan. Both these possibilities can happen in a Christian’s life.
It is interesting to note that the situation in both the cases were similar. At both times the Israelites were oppressed by their enemies. At both times they badly wanted relief from oppression. And at one time God took the initiative. At the other instance man took the initiative.
So, “Who should take the initiative?” is not the most important question. But “Do you have God’s confirmation of your plan of action?” is the most important question. IF God confirms the step you are taking to be according to His will, then with that direction you can move forward. And God will give deliverance.
The best way to move forward is with prayer. Keep praying for God’s direction if you are taking the initiative. If it is a wrong move that you’re making God has His own ways of letting you know.
If God tells you that you need not move in the path you had intended to proceed, stop right there. And wait for His initiative and His direction on the matter. By proceeding in this way you can have success in your venture.