The Christmas season is usually full of celebrations, time with loved ones, festive decorations, and gift exchanges. Yet, there are important lessons we as leaders can learn from the values and practices surrounding this time of year. Here are five principles leaders can implement this Christmas season – and all year round.
1. Relationships are important – pursue them
Ever notice how much social activity is concentrated in the few last weeks of December? Office parties, open houses, school musicals, and family dinners. The Christmas season is a powerful reminder of how much we need others and benefit from them, and it also reminds us of the loneliness that can be overpowering when we do not have social connection with others. Leaders such as owners, pastors, or directors can sometimes be isolated or socially distant from those around them… which is unnecessary. This Christmas, pursue others even if it makes you uncomfortable. They need you, and more importantly, you need them.
2. Generosity is contagious – share it
Christmas is a time of generosity. Gift exchanges, dinner parties, and year-end bonuses are common. There is nothing like receiving a gift – especially one that was unexpected. And, the impact is not just for the receiver but also for the giver. It’s contagious! I have a friend who is the most generous person I have ever met. You just can’t out-give him! I have learned more and been challenged more by watching his generosity in action. And it makes me want to be more generous. This Christmas, bless others with generosity – your time, money, or something specific and meaningful to someone who least expects it.
3. Celebration is healthy – enjoy it
Why are celebrations so energizing? Because they give people an excuse to get together with others and focus on something positive. In contrast, just 30 minutes of news will suck the joy and life out of you faster than fire consumes oxygen! Celebrations don’t have to be a major event or an extravagant performance – just a gathering with team members, family, or neighbors that is focused on something positive. And, the birth of Christ would qualify! This Christmas, take your team out for lunch or dinner and show them how healthy it is to celebrate working together and being together!
4. Disappointment is normal – get around it
Why is it that counseling centers are busiest during and after Christmas? Because although this time of year can be exciting, it can also be profoundly disappointing. Has your spouse ever made you watch a Hallmark Christmas movie? (There are dozens of them, and they are all the same!) For most people, life does not really play out like it does in the movies – sweet, happy, positive. Christmas can remind us of what we don’t have or what we no longer have. Broken relationships, poor health, disappointing jobs, the passing of people we desperately miss. This Christmas, remind yourself that disappointment is normal, and while you can’t always “get over it,” you can get around it, especially with help that comes from good friends and hope that comes from a good God.
5. It’s not always about you – never forget it
Some of the greatest life lessons come from Charlie Brown! In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie and his friends were focused on what they wanted. Charlie was desperately working at “doing Christmas,” and everything he did resulted in… disappointment. This prompted him to ask a simple yet profound question, “Does anyone know what Christmas is all about?” His friend Linus stepped into center stage with this needed reminder:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:8-14
As leaders, we get a lot of attention. We are the influencers, speakers, producers, and decision-makers. But, our role on the stage of life is limited in both scope and impact. This Christmas, let us not forget this. It is all about him – he is the good news. He brings the great joy. He generously provides the forgiveness. He is the bearer of hope. And, he is for all people, even for those who do not yet know him, acknowledge him, or are feeling distant from him. He is Jesus the messiah. And he is worthy of celebration.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.