Killing Our Gifts

What lessons can we learn from the Christmas Story? There are too many to count. What leadership lessons can we learn from the Christmas Story? There’s a few, but let’s start with King Herod.

Herod the Great was the king of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. He was a man of great power and influence, was responsible for many spectacular building projects, and is credited with forging a new aristocracy from absolutely nothing. If you are unfamiliar with his work, let me mention his most famous act as king: the Massacre of Innocents. If you have spent any time reading the Gospel of Matthew, you have probably stumbled upon this event. In short, Herod got word of the birth of a “new king”, and without hesitation, ordered the murder of all boys under the age of two who lived in the vicinity of Bethlehem. While he had many great traits as a strong leader, Herod lacked humility. It was his humility deficit that led to his irrational behaviour as a leader that ultimately led to what history remembers most vividly about him!

At the time of Jesus’ birth, Herod was estimated to be in his early 70’s. Medically speaking, it was unlikely that Herod would live much longer due to the fact that he suffered from a painful disease that later became known as “Herod’s Evil”. Herod knew his health was declining. With death drawing close, the king still refused to entertain the thought of succession planning. Instead of recognizing the fact that he probably wouldn’t even live long enough to see this new king reach the age of ten, Herod did everything in his power to rid the area of any potential threat. Aside from his irrational behaviour when his leadership was threatened, the political climate also demanded that Herod protect his throne at all costs. Herod spent a large portion of his career dedicated to reviving the aristocracy in the kingdom, and as I’m sure you can imagine, he didn’t want to see his life’s work crumble. He abused his position of authority in order to save his own ego.

While it can be easy to point a finger at Herod and look at him in a negative light, there is a major piece that needs to be understood:

Herod was not an incompetent leader. He became known as Herod the Great because of his undeniably strong leadership skills. Where Herod fell short was not in his actions as a leader, but in his inability to react well when his leadership was challenged. It was this inability that has stood out in history. We can learn from Herod’s mistakes how crucial it is that, as leaders, we react well in the face of conflict.

Herod’s identity as a leader, his natural abilities and his influence meant nothing when his power was threatened. At the end of the day, Herod’s worst enemy was not baby Jesus.

Herod’s worst enemy was himself.

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The nature of leadership has not changed over time. Sure, leadership objectives change, methods change, and structures change, but the same underlying pressure is still there. The gift of leadership is not given to many, and it can very easily be abused. King Herod was not the first leader, and most certainly not the last, to overreact when his position of leadership was threatened. All over the world, we see leaders crash and burn in the worst ways, simply because something went wrong when it came to using their gift of leadership well. A fundamental aspect of leading well begins with knowing how to react when your leadership is challenged.

As a leader, it is crucial to use your influence well. People will look to you for guidance and expect you to model humility. Whether you choose to admit it or not, people are always watching you, to see what you do when under pressure, threatened, or questioned.  A lack of humility, left unchecked, can manifest itself in arrogance. When leaders in both corporate and Christian spheres deem themselves better than those they lead, the result is messy, painful and ends in failure.

The best kind of leader makes room for the next leader.

The danger of arrogance can seep into our lives the minute our focus shifts from our vision for the ministry, and onto ourselves. We can clearly see in the Scripture the grave reality of Herod’s arrogance on the course of history. When he killed all those little boys, Herod also killed his capacity as a leader.

Although circumstances have changed, the message is still the same; abusing your power as a leader not only hurts those around you but begins the process of deteriorating the abilities God has given you to lead.

Being a Christ-centred leader means exactly that!  Our focus needs to be placed on Christ, recognizing that our authority here on earth is fleeting, and ultimately, not our own. A Christian leader who acts with their own best interests in mind is no different than King Herod, who single-handedly built up and maintained a powerful nation, but ultimately created his own demise as a leader.

During the Christmas season take some time to reflect on the gift of leadership that God has given you, and remember that the mantle of leadership He has placed upon you can very easily go from being your best asset to your worst trait, so treat this gift with the utmost respect.


The nature of leadership has not changed over time. Sure, leadership objectives change, methods change, and structures change, but the same underlying pressure is still there. The gift of leadership is not given to many, and it can very easily be abused. King Herod was not the first leader, and most certainly not the last, to overreact when his position of leadership was threatened. All over the world, we see leaders crash and burn in the worst ways, simply because something went wrong when it came to using their gift of leadership well. A fundamental aspect of leading well begins with knowing how to react when your leadership is challenged.

As a leader, it is crucial to use your influence well. People will look to you for guidance and expect you to model humility. Whether you choose to admit it or not, people are always watching you, to see what you do when under pressure, threatened, or questioned.  A lack of humility,  left unchecked, can manifest itself in arrogance. When leaders in both corporate and Christian spheres deem themselves better than those they lead, the result is messy, painful and ends in failure.

The best kind of leader makes room for the next leader.

The danger of arrogance can seep into our lives the minute our focus shifts from our vision for the ministry, and onto ourselves. We can clearly see in the Scripture the grave reality of Herod’s arrogance on the course of history. When he killed all those little boys, Herod also killed his capacity as a leader.

Although circumstances have changed, the message is still the same; abusing your power as a leader not only hurts those around you but begins the process of deteriorating the abilities God has given you to lead.

Being a Christ-centred leader means exactly that!  Our focus needs to be placed on Christ, recognizing that our authority here on earth is fleeting, and ultimately, not our own. A Christian leader who acts with their own best interests in mind is no different than King Herod, who single-handedly built up and maintained a powerful nation, but ultimately created his own demise as a leader.

During the Christmas season take some time to reflect on the gift of leadership that God has given you, and remember that the mantle of leadership He has placed upon you can very easily go from being your best asset to your worst trait, so treat this gift with the utmost respect.

By Erika Penner

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Erika is a young adult, trying to navigate through the awkward transition from university student to young professional. She was born and raised in Mission, BC, but is currently living in Sendai, Japan, working as an English teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and if shopping were a sport, she would probably be an Olympian. She also firmly believes that coffee is the most important food group. Erika is passionate about seeing people transformed by Christ, and is excited to see how God will use her as she embarks on a journey of serving Him!

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