A friend of mine had a supervisor who was a strong advocate of servant leadership. Only in his case, as my friend used to say, that meant “he was the leader and we were the servants.” No doubt that’s not what his superior intended. Still, my friend’s critical, even cynical assessment has some resonance with our text from Luke.
Have you ever had one of those moments in leadership when you wonder whether what you’ve done has made any difference? I remember a conversation not long ago with someone from a group I had been leading for several years. I don’t recall the particulars of the conversation any longer, but I do remember my reaction after the conversation. I felt like yelling at my colleague in frustration, “Haven’t you learned anything in all of our time together?!” Thankfully, I had enough sense not to say that out loud…
It’s election season in the United States again, and the country is about to choose its next President. As with many other election cycles, political consultants are in full-swing shaping the narratives and the images of their candidates. A typical day on the campaign trail includes high-level strategy meetings and debate-prep sessions centered around making the candidates look like strong leaders. A leader must be confident, a real know it all, and above all well liked. Let’s not forget error-free. At least that is what leadership has come to be defined as.
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” -Luke 2:14
At the beginning of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is not the sort of person I’d like to be. According to Dickens’ classic description, Scrooge was “a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” He was also wealthy, with riches earned in many cases by mistreating those less fortunate than him. Yet, because of the intervention of supernatural spirits, Scrooge is ultimately transformed…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to keep Christmas well, not just on one special day or during one special season of the year?