This is an interesting question, I hope you’ll agree. It can sometimes be controversial. Since most of my subscribers are in leadership positions or on their way, the answer is a bit more complex. It’s one thing to say Merry Christmas as an individual contributor in your workplace. What stance do you take when responsible for five employees or 105 or 1,005? This becomes more difficult to answer.
“How do we manage and communicate with a diverse workforce during a holiday season that obviously holds the title of our savior?”
Did the Word Christmas Lose Its Meaning?
The word ‘Christmas’ comes from the title Christ. Greek for Christos it means ‘anointed,’ and originates from the Hebrew Masiah. It is a holiday chosen to represent the birth of our King, although some faiths certainly disagree and others downplay the signifigance. As Christians, however, we know mainstream USA has also lost the truth of the celebration. It’s plain to see how America’s Christmas is more of an economic tradition, a time to recover a piece of the annual economy. Commercialization abounds as we face advertisements, new electronic toys, bargain deals and the same animated TV shows year after year. It’s hard for some to hear traditional Christmas songs without seeing licensing fees and ad space.
A few of us may feel it’s our Christian duty to stem the tide of overindulgence and worldliness. This is why “Merry Christmas” is controversial. Others may feel hopeless that America will see Christ in the season and, as a result, choose not to make waves. Still others hold to their own Christian traditions and celebrate Christ’s birth in quiet service or generous giving.
How to Manage Holiday Well-Wishing
You are a workplace leader. In this role, how are you supposed to manage holiday well-wishing? Here are a few things to consider that have worked well for me over the years. They may or may not fit your scenario entirely but I hope they help.
#1 Show Discernment
Great leaders are discerning. That means they don’t use the same methodology in all situations. As Paul says of himself as a discerning leader, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Co 9:22 NIV) We want to keep the mission in mind as we interact with each employee. Our goal is to bring glory to Christ and prayerfully save a few. Use discernment to know which employee may be positively influenced by a “Merry Christmas” and which ones might be offended.
#2 No Favoritism
Whatever their stance, it is important to not show favoritism to one employee over another. In James 2:9 it is described as sin. In context, James is addressing a church where poor people were shunned as the wealthy were given better seating. The correlation is subtle but applies. If we give better treatment to those accepting of our Christmas greetings, others will see and accuse us of judgment. Paul says of God in Romans 2:11 that He does not show favoritism either. Greet those not akin to Christmas with a kind and compassionate ‘Happy Holidays’, judgment free and equally loving.
#3 Be the Light
There are many ways to bring the life of Christ to light in the workplace without directly confronting someone’s beliefs. Jesus tells us to be the salt of the earth, a bright and shining light, a city on a hill. Our actions will always speak louder than words. If we want to take a stand for Christ, let’s do so through kind behavior, peaceful reactions, gentle words and lots of love. Great leaders for Christ show love in all things. Without love, non-believers will simply hear noisy gongs and clanging symbols. (1 Co 13:1 NASB) That racket is annoying anywhere, especially in the office where people are focused on company business.
#4 Find the Fish
In the first century, Christians were persecuted as well. Of course the kind of persecution we face in America is nothing like the brutal torture our early brothers and sisters endured. They used the ichthys, pronounced eck-thoos, the Greek word for fish, as a way to identify fellow Christians covertly. I’m not suggesting we place the fish on our office door per se. I am suggesting that we take the time ask God to draw our fellow Christians together in the workplace. In one of my roles at a large Fortune 500 company, I started an email distribution for a handful of fellow-believers sending encouraging scriptures. They identified others and asked me to add them to my list. In some cases, those believers would meet for prayer before the workday or company meeting, even a lunchtime fellowship break to encourage one another. Christmas is a great time to consider getting something similar started. Find your fellow believers and encourage one another daily.
We have such a great opportunity to bring the truth of Christ into corporate America all throughout the year. Christmas is especially capable of new opportunities to show the love of Christ to non-believers and gather together those who proclaim Christ as King. We don’t want to make it more controversial by taking a careless stand that only serves to anger. We can let our gentleness be evident to all and show kindness instead.
May your Christmas be full of Christ!
Shawn Sommerkamp is a motivational speaker and Executive Coach with 20+ years of Fortune 100 leadership experience. He founded Motivationeer™ to coach Christian professionals how to bring the power of Christ’s word, as the foundation of career success, into corporate and small business America.