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The Power of the First Move

There is a powerful dynamic set in motion when someone takes the first move.


It was Thursday afternoon, and I was on my way to a local bakery to pick up a box of goodies for a family I would visit that night. And, yes, I got one of their huge and unbelievably delicious chocolate chip cookies. There was light rain off and on, which was a nice break from the heat of our Georgia summer. Not enough to get you all wet, but just enough to make things slippery.

I was second in line in the right-hand lane of a four-lane road. It was a large and busy intersection—not the kind of road you would cross on foot. The light turned green for those making a left turn in front of us. One of those people had a pick-up load of about fifty or sixty 1 1/2 in. x 4 in. x 20 ft. pieces of lumber—it was a load of wood!—but his tailgate was down and the wood wasn’t tied in well.

In a second, as he was making the left turn, the wood sprayed across our side of the road. Everyone stopped and stared. The guy pulled over and ran out to start picking it up. Only a few, maybe thirty, seconds passed, but it seemed like slow motion. Everything in me said, get out of your car and help. But I was second in line, and couldn’t move my car.

A few cars in the lane next to mine drove slowly around or over the wood and carried on with their agendas. Then it happened—the passenger door of the car in front of me opened, and a boy in his late teens jumped out. His dad pulled the car over and got out with him. That’s all it took.

Then I pulled up and over and jumped out to pick up lumber. What took place next was so cool. Within ten seconds, another seven guys jumped out of their cars and started lifting and moving lumber off to the side of the road and back into this guy’s truck. No one knew each other but everyone knew exactly what to do. Two of the guys directed traffic. The lumber was heavy, so the guys worked in sets of two to lift the wet slippery wood.

Now, admittedly, this next part is a guy thing—no one ever said a word! There was a lot of eye contact and tremendous connection. When the wood was cleared and back in the truck (3 or 4 minutes, tops) everyone got back in their cars and drove off—silent, but tremendously satisfied and with plenty of testosterone pumping.

The power of the first move is incredible. We’ve all seen it in action, but I think leaders can forget to be intentional about making the first move.

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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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