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The Power of the First Move

Leaders can forget to be intentional about making the first move.

Those life-changing moments in a small group often come from someone making the first move. It might be a personal confession of sin or maybe a married couple gets honest about the condition of their relationship. Then the whole group opens up and God does his work.

We see the results of the first move in a worship service. Someone is stirred by the Holy Spirit and they stand during worship. This often releases other hearts to do the same.

In a capital stewardship campaign we know that when the leaders make their financial pledges first, the rest of the congregation is encouraged and inspired to participate in the vision.

Right down to personal relationships, the power of the first move is staggering. Many marriages have been saved because a husband or wife (or sometimes a friend) had the courage to say something.

My objective in this article is to re-fire your leadership heart about the value and power of the first move. Before I cover a few practical thoughts with you, I want to say that the impact of the first move isn’t always positive or productive. The first move needs to be the right move for the value to be realized. Just because you go first doesn’t make you right nor does it make you a good leader.

Going first only has power when you make the right move. “Well, duh!” you say. This is a simple idea, but my observations reveal that many church leaders wait, hesitate, or just never make that move at all. And if you fall into that category, you need to know you are losing ground as a leader.

When others sense the right move and make it first on a repeated basis, over a period of time they become the leader. Sometimes this is the right thing—for example, with church staff or a volunteer small group leader. You want them to make the first move in their ministry area. This represents good empowerment.

If you are a leader who holds back, hesitates, and waits too long to make the first move, I encourage you to ask yourself why.

I’m talking about the things that are clearly your responsibility. For example, let’s say you are the associate pastor and you oversee the student and children’s staff. You have the responsibility to hire and fire, and someone needs to be hired or fired, but you hesitate. In fact, you hesitate so long that the senior pastor or a board member makes the first move. If this is a one-time occurrence, it’s not a problem—it’s teamwork. If this is your pattern, you are losing influence as a leader.

If you are a leader who holds back, hesitates, and waits too long to make the first move, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Is it that you don’t know what to do? Are you fearful of making a mistake? Have you gone though something similar that was a bad experience? Your answer will help you understand why you hold back and help you break through to making effective and productive first moves.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2019

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). Twitter: @DanReiland

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