Advent has begun – the time of waiting and expectation – the time of the incarnation.

Advent calls us to consider the gift we have in each other and the gift we are to each other. ‘God with us’ resounds with love for humanity and our shared planet home. This Jesus, fully human and fully Divine, who lived, loved, taught, healed, fed, forgave and gave himself for others, is our model and maker.

As we enter Advent, we are called to consider what is it to be ‘fully human’? There are eight billion siblings sharing this earth, and every human person is created in the image of God – a one -off, never to be repeated ever expression of the Divine. We are gifts to each other!

As leaders, one of the most important, most sustainable and long-reaching work we can do is to empower others to share the skills, talents and love they have inside them. To do that well, we need to know ourselves, to be in sync with our own spirituality and to embrace and seek balance. Honing the whole self – mind, body, spirit – is not about constantly doing, but being aware of our being. In a world that often equates success with busyness, how do we nurture a more holistic approach?

I recently visited the Scots College in Rome, where seminarians from Scotland are exploring their call. The discernment process took that ‘whole person’ approach. It included prayer, mentorship and one-to-one counselling that helped them unpack their experiences. It brought their studies, their community life, their history and hopes together as they considered their vocation. There is a lot for us to learn from that process. I encourage us all to be more intentional about time to pause intentionally, to seek out someone who is a reflective listener for you, and to be actively aware of particular spaces that are life-giving because those are the places where your gifts may develop.

As leaders, another gift we offer others and the church/faith communities we serve is an empowering of our people, helping them discover the gifts they have, and growing their confidence and skills. If the programmes and projects we develop depend too heavily on us, they will have limited success. Projects and programmes that are communally owned live long after we let them go (because they are not ours in the first place) This communal ownership takes time, but let’s be very intentional in nurturing individuals in our communities to know themselves and to share their gifts.