Leadership requires the ability to reflect. Reflection is a vital skill that enables a leader to learn from past experience and make modification in order to bring about better results where desired. Many leaders will utilize the closing of a calendar year to reflect and make plans for changes in the coming year. In addition to professional reflection, the end of each year offers a wonderful opportunity for personal reflection as well. The Christmas season is the perfect time for personal reflection. It may not seem very intuitive, but personal reflection will often times greatly improve professional performance. Therefore, an effective leader will dedicate effort to professional and personal reflection on a regular basis.
During the Christmas season every year, I intentionally attempt to take time for personal reflection. Specifically, I take time to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas and how I have expressed, taught, and lived out that meaning. I would like to dedicate this article as an example of this year’s personal reflection.
First, I start with what I consider to be the true meaning of Christmas. As a follower of Jesus Christ and a believer in the Bible, I believe the real meaning of Christmas to be the celebration of a birthday. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, what I consider to be the greatest gift ever given to all of humanity. With all the commercialization of this time of year, it isn’t very difficult to completely lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Being that I consider Christmas a birthday celebration, gift giving is important to me. However, I’m less concerned with the gifts wrapped and placed beneath the tree for my family. It’s Jesus’ birthday! I must reflect on what gifts have I brought to Jesus during this holiday.
That initial reflection leads me to the next level; how do I give gifts to Jesus? Well, I find the answer to that question in the Bible. Jesus himself said, “whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Now my reflections take me to the point of personal examination. What have I done to give to even the least among us? What have I done to lead my family in intentional giving to others during this Christmas season? What have I done to teach my children the importance of giving to others?
My personal reflection during this Christmas season has pointed out several shortcomings within my own behavior, but luckily my family has more than made up for my shortcomings. I’d like to share with you the ways that my family has truly lived out the meaning of Christmas this year. I don’t share this as an attempt to brag on my family, though I’m not above bragging on them when they deserve it. I offer these reflections as an attempt to persuade you to be intentional about giving to others during Christmas.
My reflections upon Christmas this year include the visions of my children and wife sitting in the living room floor while packing what they called “blessing bags”. My family shopped for very strategic items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, snack bars, and much more for the purpose of packing these blessing bags. Then the plan involved placing several bags in each of our vehicles for the purpose of giving them to the homeless that we might encounter while out and about. The very next day, my son and I had the opportunity to share a blessing bag with a homeless gentleman standing in the rain at a road intersection. The note inside the bag said so, but we made sure to tell the gentleman that God loves him and so do we.
I recall a lunch I shared with my children after church just a couple weeks ago. The giving idea of the day was to select someone for whom we would anonymously pay their lunch bill. After being seated at our table, we quickly huddled to determine what criteria we would use to select our recipient. The kids set out on individual reconnaissance trips throughout the restaurant to identify our recipient. In the end, we couldn’t decide between two tables so we paid them both. We got the opportunity to hide behind our menus as we watched the appreciation written on the faces of those to which we had given.
It’s one thing to use one of the popular websites to create a family Christmas card and mail them to all your friends; it’s a completely different thing to have your children cheerfully color homemade Christmas cards for the purpose of sharing with those in the local nursing home. My personal reflections remind me of the sight of my children fanning out throughout the halls of our local nursing home; sharing their Christmas cards, a smile, and a “Merry Christmas!”.
Money Growing On Trees
Not everyone shops at dollar stores like the Dollar Tree, but those that do often do so for a reason. It’s a dollar store, so it’s clear the merchandise isn’t the greatest of quality, but the price is right. These dollar stores provide essentials at the lowest possible price and that benefits the neediest among us the most. How wonderful to reach into the shelf for a very needed item to find a dollar taped to it! What a blessing I receive at the memory of our family sneaking through the aisles of the dollar store as we chose items to which we would tape a dollar knowing that someone would receive a very needed item for free.
As I said earlier, despite my shortcomings, my family is truly living out the real meaning of Christmas. Lead by my wife, we have intentionally and actively exercised the meaning of Christmas by giving to others.
I encourage you to take this Christmas season for personal reflection and truly hope that will lead you to live out the true meaning of Christmas by giving to others. Take the ideas I’ve shared here, add your own ideas, and get out there to give to others this Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL!
Please share with the rest of us your stories of how you are giving to others during this Christmas season. Share your stories in the comments below.