The holiday season is here in full swing, and amidst the holiday parties, year-end meetings, and 2024 planning, I want to pause for a moment. I sometimes think of the holiday season as a period of more acute reality – joys are made more joyful by laughing around the table with loved ones, but grief is made more poignant as we remember those who aren’t with us this year. Mugs of steaming hot chocolate may warm our bodies and we may look forward to donning our hats and scarves, but for our neighbors without homes, the dropping temperatures are a critical challenge, even a matter of life and death. The holiday season can truly remind us of the polarities in our lives, and it is worth dwelling on the way we must live in this in-between, this both-and, all the time.
I recently had an opportunity to speak at the Murdock Trust Leadership Now conference, a beautiful gathering of faith-based executive directors coming together to renew their strength and receive both encouragement and inspiration as leaders. Alongside an esteemed cast of speakers, including Esau McCaulley, John Mark Comer, Jon Foreman, and Curtis Chang, we considered the theme of healing. Healing from what we have done wrong ourselves, healing from wrong done to us and around us, healing from generational and communal wounds, and healing that we can administer to others. In the days leading up to this conference, I felt it placed on my heart to share about the power of a healing community. The strength that comes when we lean into the beloved community that knows how to live across tensions, through differences, and in the midst of challenges. The impact that is made when we lean into our current moment in time – a time that is truly an in-between, borderland moment – and lead with love.
I believe that what is needed today is leaders who can live this way, acknowledging the polarities that confront us especially forcefully during the holidays. I long to see leaders who can lean into the joy and the grief, who can pour hot chocolate at a holiday party with friends and who can ladle soup into a bowl for a houseless neighbor.
As I was reminded by my fellow speakers at the conference, the world has never been so connected. Never before in history have we been able to hear bad news so quickly, with no opportunity to respond. This creates tensions that can only be dealt with by an ability to live alongside great hardship and great celebration. It requires leaders who can bridge divides and show the beauty of different ways of life, while fighting for the type of change that creates flourishing for all.
As we walk into these days of festivities, may we all receive strength to be this kind of leader. May we draw on the beauty of tradition, religious beliefs, and a healing community this holiday season. And may we do it together.
Wishing you all a peaceful, connected, and joyous holiday season.