Taking the First Step

Taking the First Step Hero Image

As we start a new unit this month, we’re focusing on taking initiative. Living in a self-centered world, it is all too easy to sit back and wait for someone else to step up. Psychologists even have a name for the phenomenon we see every day: The Bystander Effect. Followers of Jesus are called to something higher than waiting for others to go first; we are called to follow God’s lead in the way He took the first steps toward us (even while we were still sinners- Romans 5:8)!

INITIATIVE: Taking wise action without being told.

MEMORY VERSE: “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matthew 7:20 (NLT)

This Week’s Finish Line: Follow God’s Lead and Step Up

Nehemiah’s story is nerve-wracking just to read (Nehemiah 1:1-2:9). Imagine being cupbearer to the king- a position that was chosen for you- and approaching the most powerful person in the land to request to leave. The king had every right to kill him just for asking the question! Instead of being overcome by fear, Nehemiah courageously did what He knew needed to be done. It would have been easy to sit back in his grief (Nehemiah 1:4) but throw his hands up because he felt helpless, but instead Nehemiah asked the Lord to send him to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem to restore the city (Nehemiah 1:9).

Family Questions:

  1. What did Nehemiah hear had happened to the walls in Jerusalem and what was the first thing he did once he found out (see Nehemiah 1:1-4)? How did that help him to take wise action?
  2. Why was it a scary thing for Nehemiah to talk to the king about what he wanted? What did he do to gain courage to do the wise thing without being asked (see Nehemiah 2:1-5))?
  3. How did Nehemiah show initiative? How did he follow God’s lead and step up?
  4. Why is it sometimes scary to do the right thing? What can we learn from Nehemiah’s example about what to do when it’s scary to do the right thing?

Bring it Home Conversations & Activities:

* Check outour vision for parentsand how to use these activities each week.

TEACHER: Your Role in God’s Plan

God had placed Nehemiah in a very important strategic position before this story even begins. Use a mealtime this week to discuss different roles & areas God has placed everyone in your family right now. How could these positions be used for God’s glory?

FRIEND: Don’t be a Bystander

During a drive to school or practice this week, use news stories, people you see while out doing errands, or any personal stories to talk about the Bystander Effect. Have your kids watch for any examples of this they see. Model to your kids the opposite by opening the doors for strangers, helping someone bring in their groceries, etc. this week, then explain why you helped.

COUNSELOR: Looking for Chances to Initiate

During bedtime one night, ask your kids about things they have seen or heard this week among their friends (gossip, unkind words, etc.) and start role-playing how God might want them to initiate in those conversations. 

COACH: Catch them Doing Good

Encourage your kids one morning with one way you saw them take initiative the day before. Challenge them to look for ways they can jump in to serve others today.  Examples might be: help someone clean up a mess, introduce yourself to someone new, invite a neighbor over, etc. Pray for them, remind them to pray like Nehemiah, & then share stories around the table at dinner that night!


Thank God for the way he initiated with us. Ask him to help give us eyes to see needs around us, and to be courageous to take the first step!

Looking Ahead

Next week we’ll be talking about taking initiative to listen to God and speak out.

Talk Back

We’d love to hear stories of how you and your family are initiating with those around you this week!

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