Advent is the four-week season that precedes Christmas on the Christian calendar. It is known as a period of preparation and waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus and welcome his return at the Second Coming. Practices associated with Advent include keeping an Advent calendar and lighting an Advent wreath. So, what might Advent have to teach us about leadership?
If we focus on the descriptive phrases the prophet uses in Isaiah 9:6 to describe Jesus as the anticipated Messiah, we find some clues.
- Wonderful Counselor — This phrase describes someone who is always there, a person willing to listen when the going is tough. A counselor celebrates with you, encourages during the dark times, and offers guidance as needed.
- What would those you lead say about your approach as a counselor? Are you distracted or present in the moment? Do people sense you are listening deeply and in the right mode? Can your team members count on you to help when things are challenging?
- Mighty God — The belief that a divine being came to earth is the cornerstone theology of the Christian faith. It means that the Jesus celebrated during Advent and Christmas walks beside everyone. He is there when we are in trouble and also present during the good times. The imagery of companionship is powerful.
- How would your team describe the company you keep? Can they count on you for assistance? What kind of work culture do you create? Is it warm and friendly, fun and creative? Do you dive in and help when the work piles up or a key deadline is approaching?
- Everlasting Father — There is nothing more powerful than a father and his love. Some of us have grown up in homes where our father was attentive and loving. Many people are not so fortunate. Some have never known who their father is.
- Leaders can’t be replacement fathers but they can offer some of the traits that make fathers so special. Do you love the people you lead and work with? How patient, kind, honest, and respectful are you in your interactions with them? Can you forgive and forget?
- Prince of Peace — Jesus came to reconcile the world to God and he promoted a peaceful approach to many of the most pressing issues of his time.
- How well do you lead your team in this way? Do you represent a calming presence during a crisis? Do you offer a clear vision and know how to align others to it? Are you willing to share the credit for what works and accept the blame when things fail?
Have I made the case that Advent can teach us something about being an effective leader? Where would your team members score your leadership in the four areas outlined?
I am inspired by this leadership model but know that it isn’t easy to lead in this way. My colleagues, clients, family, and friends will be the best judge for how I am doing.
Will you be encouraged to change your approach to leadership as a result of this post? Is there someone you might mentor to lead in this way?
Advent is only celebrated for a season but we need a better leadership model throughout the year.
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