I never tire of the Christmas story and the Christmas season.
The miracle of God coming to earth as a baby, born in a manger, born to a virgin, the incarnate Christ, the shepherds, the wise men, all of it is simply and profoundly beautiful!
But right in the middle of this amazing God story are two women. One a young virgin girl, Mary, who said, in faith, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be done to me according to your word." Another is the older woman, Elizabeth, (the angel said she was in her OLD age), barren for so long, who is also carrying a miracle baby who says, "The Lord has done this for me. He has looked with favor in these days to take away my disgrace among the people."
Two women. One young, one much older. And God in His amazing grace and mercy, puts these two women together.
Tucked in this story are some powerful lessons for us. Right after Mary's encounter with the angel and she says yes to this virgin miracle, yes to carrying Jesus, the Savior and King, scripture tells us:
"In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. . . . And Mary stayed with her three months; and then she returned home." - Luke 1:39-40 & 56
Here are 4 leadership lessons we can learn from these two women:
1. God provides.
God is truly the great provider. I don't know all that was going through Mary's head and heart after the angel left her, but soon after scripture says she "hurried" to Elizabeth's house. I imagine her running all the way. God provided an older woman who was pregnant also, with a miracle baby, to be the safe place for Mary. Scripture says they spent three months together. Scripture doesn't tell us all they talked about, but I am sure it was personal. Girl stuff. Baby stuff. Husband stuff. God provided. He provided richly and personally. As leaders we must never forget that our God provides and we must lead in such a way that those that follow us believe that God provides.
2. God puts people in our lives that require focused time.
Three months. Elizabeth and Mary spent three months together. Scripture doesn't give us the details, but it does tell us the time. I can only image how very important this time was for both of these women. I believe Mary left Elizabeth's home a stronger and more confident woman in her faith and in her future. There are people in your life right now that need more time. God has placed them there for you to specifically pour into, to do life with, to encourage, to strengthen their faith, to invest in deeply. There are coffee moments with people and then there is the investment of more time. There may also be people that you need to "hurry" to see that will invest in you and pour into you. In the rush of our culture, don't miss the beauty of focused time.
3. We should be ready to give a blessing.
The first words out of Elizabeth's mouth when Mary walked in her home was words of blessing:
"You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed."
We need to carefully watch our words. We need to be ready to speak words of blessing in the lives of others. Words of life.
There were so many words Elizabeth could have said:
"Girl, what are you going to do?"
"What will people think?"
"Are you afraid?"
I am sure all these were running through Mary's mind, but Elizabeth didn't speak these words, she spoke words of blessings.
For us to speak words of blessing to others, we must spend time with God who blesses. It requires time in prayer and time in scripture. People are so hungry for someone to bless them.
4. We should give others a reason to sing.
Elizabeth's words of blessing to Mary caused Mary to break out in praise to God (Luke 2:46-55). I image she sang these words as an expression of her worship and praise. Beautiful and powerful words of praise.
When people are with you, do you make them want to sing? Do you so encourage their hearts that they are ready to praise God? Have you fanned the flame of their faith? Do they leave you, ready to boldly worship God and sing His praises? Ready to face the future because they trust God?
We need more people singing! We need leaders who give others the gift of a song. Lead as one who gives people a reason to praise God.
Wherever you are this Christmas season, soak up the amazing truth of Jesus. Emmanuel - God with us! As the angel said to the shepherds, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people: Today, a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David."
Selma Wilson is a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an advocate for moms, a cheerleader for marriages, a lover of Jesus, a family and marriage counselor/speaker, and the Executive People Leader at LifeWay Christian Resources.