How to Lead at Christmas (and every other day)

How to Lead at Christmas (and every other day)

In a popular Christmas song, Andy Williams (1963) told us, “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year."  Holiday music fills the air, children are excited, the tree shimmers, and the kitchen bustles with the sounds and smells of the feast season. Traditional Christmas movies like: It’s a Wonderful Life, the Miracle of 34th Street, Scrooge, White Christmas, and Imitation of Life will compete with the slate of more than forty-five college football bowl games scheduled. At times, it makes you ask, have we lost the meaning of Christmas? Is it possible to reclaim the “spirit of Christmas”?

In about a week, we will gather around the tree, laugh, cheer, express gratitude, and, of course, open presents. We’ll celebrate Christmas; but it’s more than a holiday. We’ll try to remember, and maybe experience, the “spirit of Christmas.” 

Christmas isn’t just the most wonderful time of the year; it’s the most important day of the year. You may be asking yourself, why is Christmas so important? You need only look at the face of a child at Christmas. In that face, you will surely see excitement and joy, but you’ll also see the happiness that comes with accepting unconditional love. Eric Sevareid, former CBS Evening News host, explained it best:

"Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves."

It’s not about the ritual of exchanging gifts and certainly not about how much money we spend. If these are your focus, you’ve missed both the meaning and the spirit of Christmas. Christmas reminds us that it is about the love that we share, and more importantly, the love we receive (John 3:16). As Mother Teresa said, "It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." 

Christmas is a reminder that love isn’t found under the tree, it’s found in the heart. It’s about giving, not out of a sense of obligation; but a giving the comes from your heart. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (VOICE), tells us:

“Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that “God loves a cheerful giver.”

Pope Francis said, "God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it." As leaders, we have the unique opportunity, if not the obligation, to use the gift of leadership in a way that reflects the true meaning and nature of the sacrifice gifted to us.

Christmas more than anything is about love and service. It’s about putting the needs of others ahead of our own; not because we “have to,” that’s obligation, but because our love for them compels us to. Isn’t this what “leadership” is all about?

Leadership is a calling. It requires the humbleness to know “it’s not about us.”  We are obliged to show that the “spirit of Christmas” isn’t about “the present,” but “His” presence. The calling to lead like Jesus is also the calling to love like Jesus (1 John 4:19, ESV), they are inseparable; not just on Christmas day, but every day.

Now, I have to confess that I didn’t always understand this “Christmas” everyday concept. I didn’t always understand, and sometimes I still get confused, that to lead like Jesus, to love like Jesus, means I had to get out of the way. Maybe, this is the reason that “Lead Like Jesus” training begins with the Heart as a cornerstone.  A piece of the puzzle fell into place for me when I read a Mother Teresa’s quote:

"It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you... yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand."

There it is! The Christmas secret to the meaning and spirit of Christmas; the secret to not just effective leadership but great leadership is to “offer your hand” (provide the help and support others need) and let “God love others through you.” 

Challenge:  There are no shortage of needs. There are people that need food, clothing, help with childcare, a ride to the store, and there are people that just need to know that someone cares, that someone loves them. You may not have the money or resources to help this way but maybe you can just share some time.  You don’t need to look any further than your church, or maybe even home, to find someone that could benefit from knowing that someone cares and loves them enough to give of their time.   It may seem like a small sacrifice, but it will show that you know God. How do I know? Because 1 John 4:8 tells us:

“But anyone who does not know love does not know God, for God is love."

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho serves as President, Organizational Leadership Solutions, a management consulting firm, based in Melbourne, Florida.  Gilbert is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He has been a contributing author to the Lead Like Jesus Blog for almost 3 years writing monthly on such issues as servant leadership, accountability, trust and integrity.  Gilbert s a sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia.  He recently retired an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie, for almost 40 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan. 

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