November 30, 2015
Who’s on your list? What are you going to give them?
Those are the questions most asked, for the next 24 days in modern culture. For 11 months, many people are driven by their hit list: they maintain an archive of names – people who have “done them wrong” (bad grammar; bad blood), and they’d like to “pay them back.” Christmas shifts focus, for most: the people they care for emerge this month. Who are they? What will they get?
Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. The calendar belies the common approach: buy them something… and don’t wait too long. The really-good-stuff will go fast; unless delivered by an Amazon drone, it may take awhile to get to the door. Brace yourself for supply-chain holdups and unexpected delays; you’ve got no time to wait. How’s your blood pressure pumpin’ now?
Let me offer some relief. Anything < $100 will be forgotten by Super Bowl; how about making a list – checkin’ it twice – that will have lasting value?
Here are five can’t-miss gifts that are both personal and powerful; they will imprint memories that have staying-power; they’re in the original Christmas catalog. Peruse the options…
1. The Gift of Compassion. Do you know someone who is “down on their luck” right now? If life has highs and lows, they’re at the low. They’re off the invite lists for holiday parties; marketplace lepers have no one taking them to lunch or bringing them home for dinner. “Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32). Who needs your compassion this Christmas?
2. The Gift of Encouragement. Fear: what a way to end a year? You know someone who sees their situation through a magnifying glass; they’re stalled, one play away from victory. They’ve run out of confidence; you believe in them more than they believe in themselves. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Who needs your encouragement right now?
3. The Gift of Honor. In Hollywood, they stop the traffic to pass out trophies; in the real world, great performances most often go unheralded. Faithful spouses, longsuffering parents, ethical business people who lose market share to charlatans; you see people who deserve a plaque. What could you do? “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves…” (Romans 12:10).
4. The Gift of Acceptance. We’ve all been there: “odd man out” is a way to cull the herd, and it happens without thinking. The kid with the tat, in an office full of button-downs. The single sales pro, on a team full of married-guys. The immigrant with the PhD, surrounded by people whose family sailed first-class on the Mayflower. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Romans 15:7). Who needs your right hand of friendship?
5. The Gift of Submission. The word makes us tense; submission is for slaves… or, is it? “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21). This is a perfect gift between spouses; the verse opens the gift box most often unpacked at weddings: “Wives, submit to your husbands…” “Husbands, love your wives…” Take two directives, and add 50 years of practice. Submission is the attribute of love that makes us salute someone or serve someone; the choice is made in the moment, based on sensitivity.
Take the people on your list, and match them with this one-another catalog. A guarantee: no one will ask for a gift receipt; none will be returned-to-sender. We all live, longing for love… among people who have the same hunger, and no source of supply.
Your direction – and, decisions – matter: this Christmas, will you be George Bailey (It’s a Wonderful Life), or Ebenezer Scrooge (The Christmas Carol)?