Leading with wisdom: Timeless leadership lessons from the festival of nine lessons and carols


In the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a special celebration deeply rooted in the Christian faith, we find teachings that go beyond religion and offer valuable lessons for leadership. By looking at the stories shared during the festival, we discover important qualities that can help anyone become a better leader. From Genesis 3:6, which reflects the importance of clarity in leadership to the joyous announcement in Luke 2:10-11, these lessons paint a picture of what good leadership looks like.

In this article, we explore biblical verses from the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, going beyond religious boundaries, to extract long-term lessons in clarity, adaptability, empathy, vision, resilience, inclusivity, humility, integrity and inspiration. By connecting these timeless verses with the contemporary challenges faced by leaders, we shed light on a path that leads to effective, ethical and compassionate leadership.


Clarity: Genesis 3:6 (NIV) – “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.”

This verse recounts the moment the woman succumbed to temptation, which sets the stage for establishing a vital leadership link to the quality of clarity in leadership. The verse further highlights the importance of discernment, emphasising that leaders, like the woman, must possess a clear vision that enables them to understand the consequences of their decisions. The leadership link underscores that leaders need to navigate beyond the immediate allure of certain choices, comprehending the broader implications for the integrity and well-being of their teams. By maintaining a clarity of vision, leaders can avoid the pitfalls that may compromise the ethical fabric of their decision-making processes. This means not only evaluating the immediate benefits, but also foreseeing the potential long-term effects of their actions. The leadership link to Genesis 3:6 emphasises that leaders, by exercising clarity in their decision-making, can cultivate a work environment that thrives on transparency and well-informed choices, which ultimately ensures the integrity and success of their teams.

Lesson 2

Adaptability: Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Prophesying the birth of a child with significant titles and responsibilities establishes a compelling leadership link to the critical quality of adaptability in leadership. The verse signifies that just as the promise of a Messiah brought transformative and unforeseen change to the world, effective leaders must navigate and adapt to dynamic circumstances. This re-echoes the importance of leaders being flexible and responsive to change; much like the transformative impact anticipated from the birth of the Messiah. In a rapidly evolving world, leaders who embody adaptability can guide their teams through unforeseen challenges while fostering an environment that embraces change. This adaptability is not merely a reaction to external forces, but rather a proactive approach which aligns with the transformative promise of the Messiah. The leadership link to Isaiah 9:6 emphasises the crucial role a leader has in steering their teams through unexpected shifts and creating an environment that thrives in the face of uncertainty.

Lesson 3:

Empathy: Isaiah 53:3 (NIV) – “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”

Isaiah 53:3’s depiction of a figure despised and familiar with suffering serves as a poignant link to empathy; urging leaders to understand and resonate with their team members’ struggles. In mirroring the compassionate tone of this verse, effective leaders prioritise creating a work environment that acknowledges and empathises with the challenges faced by individuals. This involves not only acknowledging professional hurdles, but actively seeking to comprehend the emotional aspects of their experiences. Leaders who embrace empathy, inspired by the narrative in Isaiah 53:3, foster a workplace culture where team members feel valued, heard and supported. Ultimately, this contributes to enhanced morale, well-being and a collaborative spirit within the team.

Lesson 4:

Vision: Micah 5:2 (NIV) – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2’s prophecy of a future ruler emerging from the humble town of Bethlehem Ephrathah offers a compelling leadership link to the importance of vision in leadership. In drawing parallels between this biblical verse and effective leadership, the lesson is clear: leaders must possess a clear vision for the future, irrespective of the apparent modesty of their beginnings. Micah’s vision emphasises the transformative power of foresight, signalling that great leaders emerge from unexpected places. Leaders, inspired by this perspective, guide their teams with a forward-looking vision, steering them toward shared goals and aspirations. This involves not only having a clear roadmap for the future, but also instilling a sense of purpose that inspires and motivates team members to contribute their best efforts. The leadership link to Micah 5:2 highlights that like the prophesied ruler, leaders must possess a visionary perspective that transcends immediate circumstances that shape a future where their teams can thrive and achieve collective success.

Lesson 5

Resilience: Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) – “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31, with its powerful imagery of those who hope in the Lord renewing their strength and soaring on wings like eagles, provides a leadership link to resilience. This verse serves as a timeless reminder that leaders, like those who find strength through hope, must exhibit resilience in the face of challenges. Resilient leaders tap into their inner strength during difficult times, which inspires teams to persevere and overcome obstacles. In embodying the spirit of Isaiah 40:31, leaders become beacons of hope, encouraging their teams to navigate adversity with determination and endurance. By exemplifying resilience, leaders not only fortify their own resolve but also cultivate a robust culture within their teams, which creates an environment where challenges are seen as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable hurdles.

Lesson 6

Inclusivity: Galatians 3:28 (NIV) – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28, proclaiming the equality of all in Christ Jesus, provides a compelling link to the crucial principle of inclusivity in leadership. This biblical verse serves as a perpetual guide, urging leaders to promote an inclusive work environment by recognising and valuing the diverse backgrounds of their team members. Just as there are no distinctions in Christ, leaders should actively work towards eliminating biases within their teams. By championing inclusivity, leaders create a workplace where every individual’s unique perspective and contribution(s) are acknowledged and celebrated. This nurtures a culture of equality and collaboration where diverse talents and experiences converge to drive innovation and success. The leadership link to Galatians 3:28 emphasises that leaders, inspired by the spirit of unity in Christ, play a pivotal role in shaping an inclusive and harmonious workplace where everyone feels valued and included.

Lesson 7:

Humility: Philippians 2:7-8 (NIV) – “Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross!”

Philippians 2:7-8 encapsulates a powerful leadership link to humility which portrays the ultimate act of selflessness in the life of Christ. The verse describes how, despite his divine nature, Christ chose the path of a servant, humbling himself to the point of obedience even unto death on the cross. This serves as a profound lesson for leaders, emphasising that humility is not a sign of weakness but a strength that fosters trust and respect. Humble leaders prioritise the needs of others, which espouses the principles of servant leadership. By putting the well-being and interests of their teams above their own, humble leaders create an environment of mutual respect and collaboration. Such leaders inspire loyalty and trust, as team members recognise the authenticity and genuine concern that humble leadership brings on board. The leadership link to Philippians 2:7-8 encourages leaders to emulate the humility demonstrated by Christ, recognising that servant leadership is a powerful force that builds strong, cohesive and high-functioning teams.

Lesson 8:

Integrity: Isaiah 53:9 (NIV) – “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9, depicting an individual assigned a grave with the wicked despite leading a life of innocence and truth, establishes a profound leadership link to the essential quality of integrity. Continuously, leaders must be honest and transparent in their actions. This leadership link emphasises that like the innocent figure in Isaiah, leaders must embody a commitment to ethical behaviour, fostering an environment built on trust and authenticity. By avoiding deceit and maintaining transparency, leaders set an example that resonates with their teams. Integrity in leadership is not just about avoiding wrongdoing, but rather consistently adhering to a moral compass, even when faced with adversity. The leadership link to Isaiah 53:9 encourages leaders to be stalwart in their commitment to truthfulness and ethical conduct, recognising that the foundation of a strong and respected leadership lies in unwavering integrity.

Lesson 9:

Inspiration: Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) – “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'”

Luke 2:10-11, capturing the angelic proclamation of the birth of the Messiah, establishes a profound leadership link to the role of inspiration in leadership. The announcement of good news and the promise of great joy serves as a poignant parallel to a leader’s responsibility to inspire and motivate their teams. This leadership link emphasises that, like the angel’s proclamation, leaders play a crucial role in delivering positive and uplifting messages, instilling a sense of hope and purpose within their teams. By conveying a vision that speaks to the collective goals, leaders inspire a shared sense of joy and enthusiasm among team members. Much like the announcement of the Messiah brought joy to the world, leaders – through their inspirational communication and guidance – have the power to uplift the spirits of their teams, fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. The leadership link to Luke 2:10-11 underscores that inspiration is a cornerstone of effective leadership, where individuals are motivated to contribute their best efforts toward shared aspirations.


In delving into the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a celebration rooted in the Christian faith, we unearth profound leadership lessons that transcend religious confines. From Genesis 3:6, emphasising clarity, to the joyous announcement in Luke 2:10-11, encapsulating the essence of inspiration, these biblical verses offer a multifaceted guide for effective leadership. Each lesson, from adaptability to inclusivity, resilience to integrity, serves as a timeless source of wisdom applicable to contemporary leadership challenges. Through the exploration of these teachings, we illuminate a holistic path toward leadership characterised by transparency, adaptability, empathy, vision, resilience, inclusivity, humility, integrity and inspiration. In adopting these principles, leaders can navigate the complexities of the modern world with ethical discernment and compassionate guidance, steering their teams toward success and fostering environments where individuals thrive collectively.

The author is an M.Phil. Finance graduate of the University of Ghana Business School and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana.

Email: [email protected]


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