There is not much about the Advent season that my family doesn’t love. Sometimes, however, this season also offers us a perfect chance to share our faith. After all, as believers, it’s our season. I have always longed to have a giant neon sign prominently displayed in our yard that simply says “We Believe”; perhaps even mounted on the roof, for all planes to spot as they fly by.
My wife, on the other hand, has always wanted a manger scene, complete with baby Jesus shining brightly in our front yard. After having discussed and prayed about it, we agreed that we should look for the perfect manger scene.
Several years ago, about this time, we thought we found it. A local hardware store was offering 50% off all decorations, and this particular nativity scene looked impressive over their internet. My wife called and had them put one on hold, and off we went. As we entered the store, my eyes affixed to a nativity scene blown up to over 9 feet tall with department store size mannequins posing as Mary and Joseph.
Yep, this was the one we looked at.
I immediately began to worry about what our neighbors were going to say. It is one thing to make a statement about your faith, but this scene was probably the most obnoxiously frightening Christmas decoration I had ever encountered. Honestly, it looked more like a scene out of “Star Trek” than of Bethlehem.
As we gazed at it in all its splendor, my son sheepishly uttered, “Dad, that is really scary looking!” Boy was he right.
Then I noticed something else. Written in gigantic bold letters underneath the display were the words “Save for Mathia”. My prayer, at that moment, was that no one who actually knows us would have been shopping at this store today.
Sheepishly, we sneaked out the same way we came in and spent the next few hours laughing at ourselves.
Shortly thereafter it dawned on me that, even with the best of intentions, servant leaders can be thrust into a world view of the “holiday spirit” as easy as anyone else.
Leading has never been an easy adventure. In fact, most often we are reminded that the greatest lessons in leadership often come by failing. We never quite understand it at the time, but in the future, we recognize it as God allows our past pain to act as a catalyst for present gain. Nonetheless, a servant leader is continuously called to exercise sharp discernment when it comes to seeing beyond the natural and into the things of God.
I am humbly reminded of a leader’s call to Christmas – to wait patiently for the birth of Jesus and set into motion a hopeful expectation of the things yet to come.
We all must fight to shed the embrace of the popular holiday syndrome and strive for the supernatural offerings of LIFE found in the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus said it best when he said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14(NKJV)
I believe this holds true even when it comes to the celebration of God among and within each of us.