4-Minute Sermons

INITIATIVE – A Four-Minute Sermon

Faith Committee, Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Contributed by Dr. Paul E. Toms
Senior Pastor (Retired), Park Street Church, Boston, MA

July 28, 2001



How is your “Get-up-and Go”? Those words are one definition of Initiative. Sometimes it is described as the power or the ability to begin, or to follow through. Initiative is determination. Initiative is enterprise. Initiative is self-motivation.


What pushes you? What motivates you? What is your initiative for taking action? Or, perhaps a more important question – Do you lack initiative? “Half-heartedness and mediocrity don’t inspire anybody to do anything.” (Adrian Rogers-LeadershipVol. 10, No 3) What prompts your actions? What would you do if you were guaranteed no one would ever know? What propels you? Or are many of us, as the poet has said, simply resting “like a painted ship upon a painted ocean.”

The U.S. Congress has been struggling with Faith Based Initiative programs. The published purpose is “to provide incentives to help and assist.” It is to provide incentives for motivation or initiative for churches and religious groups to engage in faith-based activities to help people in communities.

Motivation is absolutely essential in order to accomplish things. “The mysterious internal combustion called motivation is sustained when you know you are important to a worthy cause.” (Citation-Roger Thompson, Leadership,Vol. 15,No. 3) What propels you?


God, of course, initiates. He is sovereign and does what He wishes. We never have to worry about the Lord fretting and uncertain about what to do. He acts in keeping with His own plan and purpose. But what about us?

I think of at least three Biblical principles that serve as grounds for Christian action and motivation. Principle Number One: For the Christian, the basis for initiative or self-motivation is obedience. God tells us the highest priority of our life is to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:30) Jesus then said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John. 14:15) Again He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:28) Paul said: “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) This same Paul illustrates this principle when he explained his tremendous missionary activities by saying, “I am a debtor”. (Romans 1:14) Scripture told him to go-and he went! Expressing your love to Him through obedience to the Word of the Lord will propel you to active service for Him.

Principle Number Two: We are motivated not only because we would obey, but also out of a sense of gratitude. We live, we give, we go because of all He has done and is doing for us – He created a physical environment and body suitable for our earthly life, provided us His Word which informs of invaluable truths only He knows, most pivotally paid our death penalty with His own death on the cross so we might be saved and have fellowship with Him, provided us with the Holy Spirit for abundant living today, and promises us eternal life with Him in the life to come! “We love (him) because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) And Paul, “… they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) The song says, “I’ll live for Him who died for me…” Take initiative for living and serving and being faithful to the Lord out of gratitude.

Principle Number Three: Obedience, Gratitude, and now Challenge. The time is short and there is much to be done. We cannot sit idly by while opportunities slip away. Also, every minute and every resource we have are gifts from God which He expects us to use wisely for Him in building and blessing His Kingdom now, and for whose use He will hold us each accountable and on which He will base rewards in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10). We can invest these gifts now, while we still have time, in opportunities which will bless the Lord, others and ourselves, both in this life and the life to come! Jesus said: “As long as it is day we must do the work of him that sent me. Night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4) “Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them…” (1 Timothy 4:15)


Let’s spend these closing moments quietly with the Lord in prayer. What is propelling you? What is giving you motivation or initiative today? Is it love for Jesus Christ, Who loves you and gave his life for you that you may have abundant life and can invest it daily in things that will count eternally? Ask Him now to cleanse your heart of everything displeasing to Him, and fill you with love for Him. Ask Him to energize, motivate and propel you through gratitude and obedience to accept the challenges and opportunities each day to initiate loving actions and good works that will bless Him, others and yourself – both in this life and the life to come. Commit to Him to be an initiator for Him, with His help. And thank Him for taking initiative with you, for loving you and for helping you.




This material is published by the Faith Committee of the Character Council of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Reproduction and Adaptation is encouraged.