It’s time for another edition of the Christmas At The Movies Reel Leadership series. In partnership with The Gateway Church in Spring Lake, MI, I’m bringing the leadership lessons found in great, classic Christmas movies and they’re sharing the wonderful message of Jesus Christ through the films. It’s a great pairing in my mind and theirs. (And due to a mistake on my part, you’re going to get an additional article on Sunday, Christmas Eve with leadership lessons from It’s A Wonderful Life!).
Today’s article will focus on the Charles M. Schulz classic A Charlie Brown Christmas. This movie has a special place in my heart, as another youth group student gifted me a DVD copy of it shortly after my youth group days.
A Charlie Brown Christmas focuses on Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins) and his lack of hope in the coming Christmas day. He’s down in the dumps because of how commercialized Christmas has become. There’s materialism running rampant. It’s a mess, Charlie Brown!
His lack of hope leads him to become the director of his school’s Christmas play. There, he struggles with the other actors and loses more hope. It’s not until the film’s end that Charlie Brown’s hope is restored.
Let’s dive into the leadership lessons in A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s a heartwarming Christmas tale you don’t want to miss.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From A Charlie Brown Christmas
1. Leaders recognize when there’s something wrong with themselves:
Charlie Brown and the blanket-carrying Linus Van Pelt (Christopher Shea) were walking together. Charlie Brown mentions that there must be something wrong with himself.
Christmas is just around the corner. Yet, Charlie Brown isn’t happy. Something is stirring within him.
Great leaders recognize when there’s unrest stirring within their hearts. The unrest and unhappiness are typically signs that there’s more or something different to do.
Listen to the still, small voice inside of you. What’s it telling you? Is it telling you there’s something wrong?
Listen to it. Take action on it.
2. Our attitudes impact those around us:
Linus calls Charlie Brown out for his attitude. He tells Charlie Brown:
Charlie Brown, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy’s (Tracy Stratford) right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.
Linus, Lucy, and those around him recognized that his attitude was in the dumps. That attitude was infectious. It seeped into the lives of those around him.
Just like our attitude impacts the people we lead.
When we’re angry, upset, or indigent, those around us notice. They will often take on the same attitude. Not because they want to but because our attitudes transfer to those around us.
Beware of your attitude. Make sure you’ve got the right attitude for the situation at hand.
3. We lose hope when we feel unloved:
Charlie Brown walked to the mailbox. He looked inside. It was empty, with no Christmas cards or notes. He was discouraged after this discovery.
He bemoaned the fact. He even went around to the people he expected Christmas cards from and made frustrated comments to them.
Why? Because he felt unloved. As if no one cared for him.
Our emotions can quickly take hold of us. Our hope can drain when we feel unloved.
Many times, we unleash those feelings of being unloved on those we lead, our families, and the people around us.
We can change this. All we have to do is recognize what’s happening and why. Take note of why and when you feel unloved. Correct it.
4. Great leaders get creative:
Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Sally Brown (Cathy Steinberg) threw snowballs at a can on the fence. Their throws appear to be futile as each one missed their mark. Over and over again, they threw. Again and again, they missed.
Then comes Linus. He packs a snowball into the perfect ball shape. He wraps the ball in his trusty blanket much like King David probably placed a stone in his sling. Then, he whips it around and smacks the can with the snowball.
Linus’ creativity ruled the day. He was the victor in hitting the can.
Where do you need to get creative? What’s an area that is just ripe for innovation, something different in your organization?
Great leaders get creative. They find new solutions to long-standing problems.
5. Charlie Brown:
I know I should be happy but I’m not.
After the snowball incident, he sees Lucy at her psychiatrist booth, where she charges patients five cents for her advice. He approaches her booth and tells her he’s unhappy.
Charlie Brown did a couple of things right here. The first is that he recognized he was unhappy but had plenty of reasons to be happy. He wanted to find a solution to his problem.
The second thing he did was to seek help. He went to his psychiatrist and shared his problems. He sought the help of the professional of the group.
We have to be willing to admit we have a problem. We then have to be willing to share those problems with someone who can help us.
6. Charlie Brown:
What is it you want?
Lucy gave Charlie Brown the role of director for the Christmas play. Charlie Brown then noticed that something was bothering Lucy.
He confronted her about it. He asked her what she wanted. Lucy admitted that she, too, felt depressed. She didn’t get what she wanted.
You get to know their reason for working. You get to find a motivator.
Ask your people what they want.
7. Leaders have to play many roles:
For the Christmas play, Lucy was giving the roles to the actors. One of those was the dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez).
Lucy tells him that he will have to play all the animals in the play. Snoopy was okay with that. He could bah like a sheep, moo like a cow, and walk like a penguin.
Leaders have to have the attitude of Snoopy. They have to see the roles that need to be filled and then they need to fill them. Whether they fill them with others or step in to fill the roles, roles must be filled.
Play the roles when you have to.
8. Many leaders don’t know what they want:
Schroeder (Chris Doran) was the piano player in Charlie Brown. He was belting out the tunes on his little piano when Lucy approached him. She wants him to play a specific song.
Lucy asks him to play Jingle Bells. He begins to play the song. Lucy stops him. Tells him he’s playing the wrong song.
They go back and forth until, eventually, Schroeder gets the song right, though it’s not the song Lucy requested.
Leaders often have an idea of what they want in their minds. They share what they think they want. The team goes to work to create it only to find out the leader didn’t know exactly what he wanted and miscommunicated.
Over and over they go, much like Schroeder and Lucy. One saying what to do, the other doing it, only for the leader to say it is wrong.
Be aware that you may be communicating the wrong thing to your team.
9. Great leaders give hope:
Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas was all about. Linus steps up. He shares the Christmas story.
It’s a beautiful exposition on what Christmas means, how Jesus was born in a manager, and how He had come to save us all.
Linus gave hope to Charlie Brown and those listening.
Great leaders are hope-givers. They share the truth but with hope.
Be willing to give hope to the people you lead. They need it.
10. When you take care of things, they become beautiful:
Charlie Brown went to purchase a Christmas tree. The one he found was tiny, barely having any needles on it. He bought it anyway. It’s what he wanted.
He became frustrated with the tree after he placed a Christmas ornament on it and the tree bent over. He left the tree where it was.
The rest of the Charlie Brown gang came by. They saw the tree. They took care of the tree by decorating it.
Wow! What a difference their care made. The Christmas tree became full. It was beautiful. It brought joy to those who saw it.
We are quick to discard the things that we don’t like. Or we see things are unuseful. We let people go because they’re struggling.
Sometimes, these people need a little bit of care. They need training, attention, and care.
By giving these people that little bit of extra attention, they become beautiful rock stars for the organization.