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3 surprises for leaders in the Christmas story

| by Ralph Mayhew

The Christmas story is one of beauty and magnificence. It draws us into a different perspective on leadership. If we learn from these three insights, those we lead will be richly blessed.

1. God takes the initiative

God initiated Christ’s coming into our sinful brokenness. He took the initiative to send a Savior, Emmanuel—“God with us,” who can lead us to our salvation. (John 3:16)

Just as God initiated, leaders should also move toward people (Mathew 1:23). Sounds straightforward, until we consider those who have hurt us, we’re in conflict with, estranged from or even sinned against us. God’s example compels leaders to take the initiative toward others, regardless of the cost. 

2. God exercised influence outside the spotlight

Jesus could have made a grand entrance into the heart of Jerusalem. The Son of God manifesting in the Holy of Holies and walking out for all to see would have been the spectacular entrance we’d expect from a Savior King. Bethlehem was the opposite and into this most unsanitary circumstance was born through human means the Messiah (Micah 5:2). 

While the spotlight is alluring for leaders, the kingdom advances when we forsake idols, own our brokenness and vulnerably turn toward Jesus. The spotlight, as Jesus eludes too, actually inhibits the growth of the kingdom (Mark 9:9). 

3. God gave people something worthy to hope in 

The Jewish people awaited a Messiah to bring salvation to every aspect of society (John 4:25). They had pinned their hopes on the Messiah and those who recognized Jesus as such found their hopes fulfilled. Jesus’ birth, ministry and ultimately his death and resurrection gave them this hope.

As leaders, we also have an opportunity to extend hope. This means we must offer to those who follow, that which God has already given them. The gift of leadership offered is never meant to benefit the leader, nor is it meant to offer those following any hope in that leader. We must steward our influence so those we lead find their hopes fulfilled in and through God.

It’s easy to speed-read this article, grabbing the major points and going on to the next one. However, the risk is that we don’t stop to hear God’s gentle whisper that Jesus is close and may want to see something unexpected. 

What does Jesus want to reveal about the way you have led this year in order to prepare for the next?

Answering this question with integrity may be the greatest gift you can give to those you lead as 2019 rolls around.

Photo source: istock 

Ralph Mayhew

Rev. Ralph Mayhew has been leading people for more than 20 years. He is a lead pastor, author and seminary lecturer in practical theology and ministry and has a Masters in Christian Leadership. At the beginning of 2017, after 14 years of ordained ministry, he planted Burleigh Village Church; a local church encouraging people to think Jesus. He has written several books among them The Anonymous Leader: An Unambitious Pursuit of Influence and How To Create The Organizational Culture You Want. He posts regularly at

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