So I am a little behind on this one, but as they say, better late than never! The Advent season started last Sunday, so I will post now, and another will follow within a few days. I originally sent this series as a ‘Motivational Monday’ email series to subscribers. I hope it blesses you as you reflect into the Christmas season!
So, what does Advent have to do with leadership? And how does hope play into things?
Advent is a practice started many years ago within the state church to prepare for the celebration of Christmas day, the traditional birthday of Christ. Once Christmas was synchronized with the pagan celebration of Saturnalia in the Roman empire, aligning it with the Winter solstice, the dates were set in motion. Traditionally it means ‘coming’ or ‘approach’. In faith traditions it is constructed around Biblical passages calling for people to wait for the coming Messiah historically, as well as looking forward to seeing Him again in the future.
So, each week is based on another theme related to the Christmas story, the prophecy of the Old Testament fulfilled, and what it means for the church moving forward. There are a number of interpretations for the themes, but I have chosen to go with the traditional, mainly because they are close to me, and I feel resonate well with what it means to Lead Freely.
So, get ready to ask some tough questions of yourself and your expectations. Not so much of the world around you, because leadership starts at the centre. Each theme connects with what we desire of leadership, and what leaders secretly desire as a outcome from their actions. My hope is that this exercise achieves both as you examine what it means leading forward.
A story on hope…
I remember vividly a story of hope and anticipation from my early teenage years. In fact, my youngest sister and I had a chance to reflect on this story a short while back. The irony is that we were on our way from Saskatchewan, and the story involved us and our parents going to Saskatchewan. In the late 80’s my youngest sister was a student at Millar College of the Bible in Pambrun, SK. She liked to go back and forth between there and home, seemingly every couple of months, which gave us plenty of opportunity to see the prairies.
The trip that brought the most laughs, but at the time the most heartache, was the most memorable. It was extremely cold that winter and our dad liked to run vehicles with the least amount of needed maintenance. Both of those items would come back to haunt us on this post-Christmas trip. We started the trip with the Impala and made it to about Portage La Prairie from New Bothwell, before we made the plea to do something about the missing heater coil. We sat at the back frozen and as quiet as we could muster, but eventually you must speak over your frozen toes.
Two tensions arose at this moment: My dad’s impatience with turning around and having to drive back. My sister’s anxiety with possibly missing the beginning of the next semester.
We tarried on.
Part 2 of our trip involved the GMC S-15, which had not been prepared for such a trip, but was the only option we had. My sister and I crammed into the little back seats, and off we went, feeling a renewed sense of hope and relief. Then came the snow and high winds, and the cab of the truck was filled with tension once again. Not only were we three hours behind schedule, but we would also have some white knuckle driving to contend with on the way. Anticipation grows in these moments…
And then the clutch went.
Somehow, it knew to wait until after the snow let up and we were in the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan. It was probably closer to Herbert, but that’s close enough. The truck would stall out, dad would downshift, get a bit of speed up, the truck would stall out, etc. etc. Everyone was knotted up. And then we saw the Hotel sign.
The truck went in for two days of repairs in the morning, and we shared beds in the sketchiest hotel we had stayed at to the best of my recollection. My parents went drinking, we missed supper, and everyone fought. The school seemed like the promised land that we may never see, but only hoped for, and this time in the nether reaches of Saskatchewan would be permanent. We sat around without joy, absent of peace, and just hoping we could get moving again.
Long story short, we got the part, my sister got to school 3 days late, and we headed straight back to Manitoba without a word. Not a pleasant experience, but a great lesson in moving from exile to hope fulfilled.
And now my sister and I can laugh about it.
So what does this have to do with hope and leadership?
Unless you have a sense of hope, you tend to be a little lost. You might function well for a while, but your overall direction will be off. We all have some measure of hope in our daily lives; we hope the bus arrives on time, we hope we get a raise at work, we hope people will appreciate us for who we are, etc. etc. But hope needs to be bigger.
Big hope is stretching your expectations, not your ‘shoulds’ in life. A should judges you consistently as inadequate and inferior. But hope is different. When you are hopeful you allow space for the situation to grow into something in line with your overall purpose. Even more, it shapes your character to face those situations going forward.
When we function without hope, we assume there is little purpose in what we do, and why are in the place we are. And that is just not true.
So what do you hope for?
How often do you consider your hopes throughout the week?
Do you provide hope to those around you?
Hope is contagious; it faces reality with possibility.
Have a great and ‘hopeful’ week!