Posted by: amylamb | January 25, 2013

The Men Who Start a Movement

Never underestimate the power of the idea. Though intangible and unseen, the force within is enough to propel the rise of nations. Yet, when overlooked, it can thrust once invincible nations into irreversible decline. The power of an idea is enough to change the course of history, and indeed, it has.

Have you ever noticed that ideas have life cycles? I am convinced that ideas – and nations – are born, reach an apex of influence, and save human and/or divine intervention, eventually fade into obscurity. This pattern has most poignantly been categorized into four stages: the man, the movement, the machine, and the monument.

The first stage begins when someone – the man – chooses to become the idea’s representative. This is how ideas gain influence: when an advocate steps in to build momentum on its behalf. These people are change agents because change happens when ideas get going.

These are people like Thomas Jefferson, one of the “men” behind the idea of a “government instituted among men” to secure the “unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. People like Jesus Christ, who was the “man” behind the idea of the new covenant. People like you and like me, who have our own ideas and dreams that we long to fulfill. These people infuse power into their ideas by being the sacrifice required to bridge the gap between “what is” and “what could be.” Many, in fact, give their lives to see their ideas fulfilled.

Then something even more remarkable happens: the first follower. The “man” successfully leads others to give their lives to fulfill the idea. This is the spark that lights a movement, and it causes quite a stir.

These movements make a difference. The Revolutionary War breaks out. Crowds gather on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, at the feet of a man who said the revered law was only fulfilled by love. Your idea finally starts to shift paradigms, gain attention … change lives.

But somewhere along the way, the movement becomes normalized. In an effort to regain control over the rapid expansion of the idea, the movement becomes a machine. For a while, it brings efficiency and organization to the movement, but eventually the machine forfeits the soul of the movement.

The veterans of the movement grow weary and even disdainful at the prospect of necessary change, while new entrants become frustrated and confused because the condition of the “machine” does not reflect the lore of the “movement”.

We see it happen every day. The idea of a nation governed primarily by its citizens takes a backseat to the citizens’ apathy and irresponsibility. The idea of a law fulfilled by love becomes lost in the church buildings, programs, and standards of behavior. Movements become machines, and machines become monuments. They are nothing more than something to be remembered, occasionally celebrated, and rarely, if ever, practiced.

But somewhere in between the machine and the monument lives a “man” with an idea. If he or she is courageous enough to take the risk and become the advocate, than the idea can be resurrected.

All is not lost. All we need are the men and women who are willing to launch a movement. May this generation not forfeit its responsibility to remember, revive, and relive the ideas that made a difference.

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” –Luke 12:48



  1. You and so many of the other students and graduates of the University of Mobile give me such hope and excitement for the future of our country and world. The U. of Mobile is indeed creating young men and women who will go out and change the world for God’s good.

  2. You are spot on. I have witnessed exactly what you described happen over 50 times. The leadership style necessary for continued growth is also critical.

  3. […] week, I wrote about the life cycle of ideas. I wrote about how a single idea, when accurately and passionately represented, can spark a movement […]

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