Initiative is a reflection of the character of God.
Key Question: What around you needs to be done? Often it seems like preteens are in their own world where everything revolves around them. We kick off the month with this question, because initiative starts with noticing there’s a need in the first place. We hope that preteens will begin to see beyond themselves to see what’s going on around them.
In our first week, we start at the beginning of Nehemiah’s story in Nehemiah 1:1–2:9. We discover that Nehemiah was working for King Artaxerxes when his brother brought news from the exiles living in Judah. When he heard about the devastation in Jerusalem, Nehemiah was heartbroken. He recognized the huge need, but before he did anything he prayed. Nehemiah knew that whatever he would do, he’d need God’s help to accomplish it.
Bottom Line: Be on the lookout for what needs to be done. Before you can do what needs to be done, you have to see what needs to be done. We hope the story from Nehemiah inspires kids to be more aware of the needs around them. These don’t have to be huge either. Our homes and schools are filled with opportunities where we can show initiative, we just have to open to seeing them.
Key Question: What keeps you from doing what needs to be done? Sometimes we are unaware a need exists. Other times, we actually see the need, but for whatever reason, never get to it. This week, we want preteens to think about the things that get in the way of taking initiative and figure out a plan for how they can get the job the done.
In week two, we find out what Nehemiah does with what he found out about the wall in Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 2:11-18 we see that he took initiative and set out to fix the wall. When no one else would step up, He went straight to King Artaxerxes and took action. And it’s that initiative that inspires the entire community to get involved.
Bottom Line: Don’t wait for someone else to do what needs to be done. When kids see something that needs to be done, they might think that someone else will take care of it. But what would happen if our kids saw it was possible for them to be part of the job? We want kids to realize that when they see what needs to be done, God might be telling them they can be the one to do it. And if they can’t do it all on their own, they can ask someone they trust for help.
Key Question: Who do you see being treated unfairly? Initiative isn’t just about tasks that people need to accomplish. Often what needs to be done has something to do with how people are being treated and relationships that are broken. Preteens are becoming more sensitive to the needs of others. With this question, we can start helping them understand empathy and what they can do to help the people around them.
In week three, we see a different part of Nehemiah’s story. In Nehemiah 5:1-12, we discover that while everyone was building the wall, an issue arose. Some of the Israelites were severally mistreating each other. Even though Nehemiah was in charge of rebuilding the wall, he stopped the building of the wall to confront the issue. He cared enough about the people to help them figure out a solution.
Bottom Line: Don’t wait for someone else to help people in need. When kids see people in need, we pray that they take initiative to help instead of thinking it is someone else’s problem. God can use them along with the trusted adults in their life to make an impact in the lives of others.
Key Question: What distracts you from doing what needs to be done? We’ve all started projects that end up unfinished because we were distracted by something else that was happening. We want our preteens to start thinking about some of those distractions. Some might be out of their control, but for the ones they can control, we hope they can leave with a plan to ignore those distractions and get their jobs done.
In week four, we see how Nehemiah dealt with some distractions in Nehemiah 2:19-20, 4, and 6. Not everyone liked what Nehemiah was doing. He had enemies who tried to distract the people from finishing the wall. But he saw through their plan and stayed focused on the job God gave him to finish.
Bottom Line: Stay focused on what needs to be done. From cleaning their rooms to finishing their homework, kids have all sorts of things that need to be done. But it often doesn’t take long for cleaning a room to become playing with the toys you’re supposed to be picking up. We hope kids will see that focusing on the task at hand is important. God has all sorts of jobs for us to do. We can trust Him to give us the focus we need to finish them.
Key Question: What is God doing in your life that you can celebrate? Initiative can actually be fun. When we’re aware that God is doing something in our lives, we can take initiative and make a big deal about it! But first, we have to see what God is doing. We want preteens to realize that all the good things happening in their life are from God. They can make a plan to celebrate them!
In our final week, we head to Nehemiah 3–4, 6:15-16, and 8:1-17 and read that God helped Nehemiah and the people finish the wall in only 52 days! They were able to celebrate all that God had done for them, not only during those 52 days but also throughout their history as His people. They heard God’s word and remembered how God had been faithful to them. They had a lot to be thankful for!
Bottom Line: Look for ways to celebrate what God has done. When we realize that God is doing amazing things in our lives, we can’t help but give Him thanks. We pray that throughout this month looking at Nehemiah’s story, kids will see how God helps them each and every day. We hope they learn to celebrate God’s continued work in their lives.