By Owen Phelps, Ph.D.

Director, Yeshua Institute

One of the first principles of Leading Like Jesus is that “leadership begins on the inside.”

We teach – and firmly believe – that unless one’s heart is properly disposed, there is no hope of becoming a Jesus-like Leader. Or as Pope Benedict XVI put it, “If a man’s heart is not good, then nothing else can turn out good either.” And yes, of course, it’s as true of women as of men.

Huge issue

The huge issue of the heart for us is putting – and keeping – God first and foremost in our lives. As Jesus explained: “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the One who sent me.”

The question for us – always for us -- is: What matters most?

The answer is simple but never easy – most especially if we are blessed with an abundance of great, supportive and loving relationships, or even if we are blessed with an abundance of material stuff.

Ah, stuff. The more we have, the more we are tempted to let our hearts be stolen by our abundance.

But this is a time of the year to strive to have a laser-like focus on what should matter most to us. We can join the majestic angels and humble shepherds in declaring, in the wake of a humble child’s birth: “Glory to God in the highest ...” (Luke 2:14).

The occasion for their jubilation – and ours -- is the realization that “a savior has been born … who is Messiah and Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Christmas is not a time to give a great deal thought to how we might be better leaders at work. But it is certainly a time for us to reflect on how we might be better leaders in our homes, in our families, in our parishes and in our communities.

Pope Francis speaks about how we are all called to be “missionary disciples.” Disciples are people who follow and do the will of Jesus. Missionaries are people who go out – who put themselves out – to be Jesus’ hands and feet in the world.

Time to reflect

Christmas is a time to reflect.

  • How have I followed Jesus this past year?
  • How have I done his will … maybe even when it was easier to follow another path?
  • How have I gone out of my way to be a selfless servant … a steward … a shepherd of God’s people?
  • How have I used the opportunities that he has given me to be his hands and feet in the world?
  • How will I do better now, in the season of the birth of our Savior … and in the year ahead?

At the Last Supper, near the end of his life, Jesus told his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these…” (John 14:12).

Did he say “greater”? Yes, he did.

Before he left, he set the bar for his disciples very, very high.

If we are committed to being his disciples – to lead as he led – we have to deal with that.

Let’s offer a prayer for each other and then resolve to do our best – now and in the future.

May you enjoy a blessed Christmas and a purposeful New Year!


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