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The Proactive Path By Paul Swamidass

The Proactive Path to a Goal

There is a proactive path that will glorify God and we see a vivid example in scripture.

And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in [to the house] and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5: 18-20 ESV).

[Jesus said] “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” (Luke 5: 24-26 ESV).

A team of men made an extraordinary effort, and when they reached their goal, a paralyzed man was healed by Jesus, and the many witnesses present “glorified God and were filled with awe….” When the men started on their extraordinary journey, most likely, they did not consider the many people, who would glorify God upon witnessing the healing of their friend by Jesus.

The men vividly showed us: “Bring people to Jesus Christ for healing or salvation, and witness God being glorified.”

A non-traditional and proactive solution

When the men could not get access to Jesus Christ inside the house, they had at least three traditional options:

  1. One was to wait until the crowd began to leave the house and then enter the house.
  2. Another was to wait for Jesus to walk out of the house eventually, and then seek healing for their friend.
  3. Another option was to blame the crowd, and without waiting, abandon their goal to take the sick man to Jesus Christ for healing. That is, retreat or quit.

Traditional Options 1 and 2 needed patience, while Option 3 shows lack of resolve and passivity. The men chose not to use any of the above traditional options, instead, went for a non-traditional and risky option to reach Jesus Christ as soon as possible, and succeeded.

Successfully taking the sick man to Jesus Christ by lowering him through the roof was creative and original; perhaps no one in history ever thought of doing so before them. It also qualifies as an extraordinarily proactive option.

There are always obstacles on the path to any predetermined goal. How we address the obstacles on the path to our goal separates the proactive team/individual from those who are not.

Undertaking a manageable risk

When overcoming obstacles, extraordinary options may involve a higher degree of risk. Yes, this team took on added risk, while climbing to the roof, while removing the roof, and while lowering the sick friend down into the house. The risk assumed by the group involved potential injury to the team itself, to the sick friend, to Jesus Christ below and the people around him under the roof—the people inside the house could have suffered injury from falling debris or falling men from the roof.

The team succeeded in not injuring anyone. The risky and proactive episode turned out alright; it was a manageable risk.

Overcoming extraordinary obstacles

The team that accomplished its goal using an extraordinary solution does not identify a leader for the team in the Bible. It is most likely the men had a leader among them, who took them through an extraordinary as well as a proactive path to channel the team’s energy to attain their goal, successfully.

As a leader, what proactive, non-traditional solutions would you consider in pursuing your team’s or your organization’s goal if faced with an obstacle that would defy ordinary solutions?


Paul Swamidass, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus, Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA. He retired from Auburn University in 2016 after teaching there for 24 years. He was an industrial manager with an engineering degree before graduate education in business administration and a university career as a faculty member lasting 33 years.


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