Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'"
The sentences above come from the Gospel this coming Sunday, the second Sunday of Advent. They speak to us of promise, of hope.
And, of course, the greatest hope of all -- the hope of a Savior -- is the hope fulfilled in our celebration of Christmas at the end of Advent.
What can we, who aspire to be S3 Jesus-like Leaders, do now in Advent to prepare for the Savior's coming on Christmas Day?
First, we can be grateful. And second, we can be generous.
We discussed these things in our Thanksgiving edition. But they are topics that deserve more than one day's attention.
Indeed, gratitude should be at the very core of an S3 Leader because as Steward Leaders we recognize that all good things come from God, beginning with our own life itself and culminating in the promise of eternal joy.
Here are two little tips to help you maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout this hectic time that goes by two names: Advent and Shopping Spree.
Tip One: For each hour you spend shopping (internet included), resolve to spend 10 minutes focusing on your blessings and being grateful for them. You're too busy? Okay, resolve to spend five minutes for each hour you shop. Believe me, it's the best gift you can give yourself this time of the year -- or any other time, for that matter.
Tip Two: Express your gratitude in tangible ways by doing something significant for others. Make a little time to ask two questions: Who can I help? What can I do for them?
Reaching out to strangers is nice. In fact, we recommend it. But don't neglect family members or friends, or the people on your work teams, or anyone who serves you during the year. I'm not talking about exchanging gifts. I'm talking about just being generous with them however you are able.
Be generous with your time. Be generous with your attention. Be generous with your energy. Be generous with your good cheer. Be generous with your patience. Be generous with your praise. Where appropriate, be generous with your hugs and kisses.
And yes, be generous with your purse -- as generous as you can responsibly be. At a time when the gap between rich and poor is wider than it has ever been before, doing what you can to bridge the rift between haves and have-nots truly makes for a better world.
The world is full of people who, having experienced the generosity of others at some point in their lives, have grown to be generous givers in their own right. In this way we can participate in the work of filling the valleys, leveling the hills, straightening the roads and smoothing the rough ways that others endure while we have been spared.
And in this way we can share in the salvation of the world.
Owen Phelps, Ph.D.
Director, Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute