Note: I wrote this in 2011 on a cold day while living in Amarillo, TX. Since I am blogging frequently now I wanted to share.
Normally, my personality bends a little more to being untraditional and I aim to be progressive in my thinking. Yet Christmas time has way of making me feel nostalgic, contemplative and traditionally old-school. Christmas time awakens so many vivid things inside of me. The cool of the air, the warmth of the music, holiday scents, glowing lights in the cool misty air, and years of grateful memories…(did I mention Starbucks Christmas blend?) It awakens in me the Christmas feeling.
For me, there is a comforting yet just a small lonely feeling about Christmas. It is not a dark feeling but it has a dim hint of loneliness to me. I have been trying to figure out “whats with this lonely thing?” It’s not a depressed or cold feeling its actually kind of warm. It feels very full….but just a little bit empty. Today I was thinking, “why do I feel this way at Christmas time,” wondering if I am the only one that feels this way.
I believe it’s the seasons of my life and those who I have had the honor of knowing through my journey that brings this feeling. I have had so many amazing people in my life surrounded by an empire of joyful memories. I think the “little bit empty” feeling is simply those I have experienced life with. My heart is overjoyed to have shared moments with these people, yet my heart is just a little sad that we have all moved on from the stage that these memories were built on. There are so many rich, beautiful, and cherished moments like pictures in my mind through the seasons of my life.
I remember as a kid getting gifts; an atari, a remote controlled car, or a stereo that I knew my mom couldn't afford. Yet, the greatest gifts I have received are laughs, tears, and conversations. At this time of the year what I remember most are the people that I revisit through the time machine of my heart.
When I get that Christmas feeling I think about the greatest gift, the hope of the world, being born in a cattle trough. I also think about the gifts of friends and family that Jesus has blessed me to know. To those whom this is written, you know who you are, thank you, I love you & I miss you. My life will never be the same. Beyond the cold air, the warm music, and all that surrounds the Christmas season, there are faces and places in my heart and you are there.
“Christmas time is all about receiving, the gift that god has sent from up above” -Ray Charles
One of the loudest cries of our culture is comfort. The need for convenience is expressed by trying to get what we want while costing us the least amount of energy, time, or money. I get it, I love my wifi fast and my amazon packages at my door within two days. We hate discomfort, wether it be the discomfort of waiting or the grind of working, process is just plain painful.
A lot of modern leaders would blame millennials, but this is no trend. It’s become a part of our rapid moving world over the recent decades. This proposes a huge problem for those pursuing leadership, because influence is costly. It will cost us our comfort, it's a roller coaster of emotions, and it's physically draining. Only the resilient will lead for a significant amount of time. Sadly, I have seen many with a leadership position that couldn't handle the cost, so they bailed on leading. Many very talented people have given up on leading because it was just too taxing.
Here are 3 ways to build resiliency in the economy of leading:
Jesus dealt with the problem of people wanting to be the recipient of what He offered, but they didn't really want to be like him. The ones that did, transformed the world. Believing in Jesus is free, but following Him will cost you. When we truly follow Him, we get under His waterfall of influence and it pours onto us and those we run with. We will never have to pay what Jesus paid. Jesus showed us how costly leadership is. He didn't just sacrifice His life, He lived a life of sacrifice.
Consider the Cost
When we apply for a job, when we buy a pair of jeans, or when we volunteer our time, we want to know: what is the cost? If you are frugal like me, you want to know what is the minimum you have to pay.
When leading, our first question isn't, “what is it going to cost me?” we should ask, “what is it going to take?” Then we figure out a way to come up with the resources to make it happen. It is not easy, but it is worth it. For us as leaders, it's not about meeting the minimum requirements, it's about bringing the most impact. Those that are content with following will always be limited by the cost of leading, while leaders will figure out a way to make it happen despite the cost.
Consider the Value of People
Leadership is costly because it's valuable to people, it’s expensive and requires sacrifice. If you are going to venture to lead, you must ask yourself, “am I willing to pay the price?” Even when the price goes up, because the expense of leadership inflates. As your influence grows so does the price to continue leading.
May the costs of leadership never overshadow the honor of leading. God has given us the honor and the call to lead others. There is great joy in this divine privilege!
Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.
There has been lots of talk about striving in Christian culture over the past several years. Typically, folks are talking about striving for the favor, acceptance, or grace of God. Most of us who follow Christ get it, we don’t strive for the love of God, we strive from it. We live in a culture that at times celebrates effort as much as it does accomplishment. I get it, but at the heart of every leader there is a discontentment with the average, mundane, the “good enough” mentality.
When I think about the topic of excellence, I think about Daniel. Scripture says this about Daniel:
“Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.” -1 Daniel 6: 3
This excellent spirit that Daniel possessed provided a way for him to have incredible influence. If leadership is about influence, then pursuing excellence must become a non-negotiable!
Excellence is My Very Best
Excellence is the doing the very best with what we have. It is measured by the resources we have: our time, money and energy. So excellence is scalable based upon the resources a person has. Excellence is simply the very best that I can bring. It’s not about being the best, it’s about bringing MY best. It’s not about my desire or my intention, it’s my willingness to give my all and empty myself for the task at hand.
Excellence is a Journey
Some confuse excellence with perfectionism. I would say that perfectionism is a discontent state pursuing flawlessness, where as excellence is a continual progression of getting better. Perfectionism is a destination, while excellence is a journey. When I came to Christ in 1993, I was already leading at a certain capacity, but something happened that made me want to be the very best at what I did. Looking back, a lot of what I did would not be excellent by today’s standards but it was excellence then because it was the best I had. My best today is better than it was over twenty years ago because excellence is progressive.
Excellence is a Conviction
I have had people over the years give me a hard time, and even make fun of me, for being so driven towards excellence. My response is normally the same. “I am doing this for God, and He deserves my best.” This conviction starts at the heart. I want to give God the very best. As a leader, I want to offer the people I serve the very best. As people devoted to Christ we must embrace the spirit of excellence because everything we do is as unto the Lord.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV) 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.