MERIDIAN — As we adults bumble into this Christmas season (Advent started Dec. 1), some of our attention should turn toward our behavior and that of our favorite leaders.
When “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” written in 1934 by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, gets to “Oh, he’s making a list and checking it twice; He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,” that’s not just a funny message for children.
Think St. Peter at the pearly gates looking up names in God’s book to determine who may enter heaven.
“The twelve gates (to the holy city) were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl” (Revelation 21:21).
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
“The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33).
The coming of the light on Christmas Day to disperse sin’s darkness called out to men and women of good will to live as children of the light. “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8); for “No immoral, impure or greedy person ... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).
Yes, behavior matters.
For better or worse, we tend to model our behavior after that of our favorite leaders.
So, leaders’ behavior matters.
Regrettably, more and more of us these days are influenced by personalities deemed leaders by social and political media rather than godly men and women in our communities.
A study Bible entitled “The Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word” highlights what should be expected from our leaders. These highlights include traits such as character, courage, humility, integrity, self-discipline, wisdom and obedience to God; skills such as accountability, communication, conflict management, empowerment, planning, problem solving, stewardship, team building, and systems thinking; and attributes such as healthy alliances, servant leadership, and encouragement.
How do your favorite leaders stack up to these traits, skills and attributes?
One chapter in the book particularly caught my attention vis-a-vis what’s happening in our country today. Entitled “Systems Thinking,” it relies on 1 Corinthians 12:12-29, which speaks of one body with many parts working in harmony. The lesson says, “Effective leaders have discovered that tasks are best accomplished and goals best achieved by organizing and implementing systems. In doing so, we are really imitating God, who has a passion for order and harmony.”
Many popular leaders nowadays seem to care little for order and harmony but work, instead, to disrupt and tear down important systems.
Sadly, as our resultant leader-influenced behavior further disrupts the body of our democracy, studies suggest our jangling behavior is also disrupting the body of Christ.
During this Christmas season, let us heed the book’s guiding verse, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).
• Bill Crawford is a Republican former state lawmaker from Meridian.