The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. …Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (John 1:14 – The Message)
Worship on the first Sunday of Advent got me hooked on a theme.
It’s about the enrichment that certain individuals bring to our lives. They cause heads to turn when they show up. They convey a life-affirming presence. They are balcony people whose perspective encourages us on our journey. They are family members, mentors, friends.
Prone as I am to process life through the filter of leadership, my 2010 Advent journey reminds me that leaders are called by God to be a generous presence in His world. They do this by making authentic connections with the thoughts and feelings of others, excelling in the art of making others feel valued, important. I googled the expression and to my surprise, found that Rochelle Melander had written a book on this very subject. It’s called “A Generous Presence: Spiritual Leadership and the Art of Coaching”. I have not yet read the book, but I anticipate some of its findings. Here’s what I have observed in leaders who exude a generous presence:
- They give time to ordinary people as well as “important” people
- They value interdependence over independence
- They create safe spaces for others
- They are disarmingly approachable
- They are positive people who share their life stories and listen to those of others
- They live out of a theology of abundance rather than a theology of scarcity, thus they:
- willingly share their resources
- meet needs and keep it low key
- celebrate the achievements of others
- equip others to reach their highest capacity
- give credit to others, even when they themselves did most of the work
- care for themselves so they can remain generous
- They receive the loyalty of those they lead
- They have fewer turnover problems at work and in relationships
- They spare no expense in the service of others
- They don’t know how important they really are
Advent announces the Source of all generosity. Our munificent God was with Adam and Eve in their garden paradise. God’s presence provided the luster to their idyllic surroundings. Yet, in spite of this intimate experience, they lost His blessing. Then, in the fullness of time, Jesus came from the heart of the Father and made His home among us. This is the central message of Advent – God is with us, He is present and most visible through His people. As Christian believers, and especially as leaders, our calling is to reflect God’s generous presence in His world.