Christmas is an amazing season. It’s a time of Christmas trees and twinkly lights, carols and cookies. But for those of us on a church staff, we also know it to be one of the busiest, most important seasons of our year. By the time our congregations start singing “Silent Night,” many of us have been dreaming, planning, and prepping for months just how they would experience that moment.
So how do we keep our hearts engaged while our minds and bodies are fatigued? How do we love our families well while ushering new believers into the family of God? These are important questions we will face in the coming months – and here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:
- Be refreshed by the significance of Christmas.
Beyond simply “remembering the reason for the season,” remember the potential eternal impact your church’s Christmas activities will have on the people in your congregation and community. Sometimes the longer we are in ministry, it becomes too easy to go through the motions to make church happen each week, and we forget what it all means to the individuals walking in the doors. Your church is creating an environment where people will have an opportunity, perhaps for the first time ever, to encounter the God who wants to meet them in their deepest pain. Your church family is welcoming people who may not have a biological family to celebrate the holidays with. Words spoken from the platform can infuse hope into people who may be on their last leg. What a holy privilege that God would use us in this work!
“Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.” 2 Cor. 4:5-6 (MSG)
- Remember that God sees your hard work.
The Bible reminds us, “God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” Heb. 6:10 (NLT). The people showing up on Sunday may not see the hours of preparation put into your service (although some seem to have a knack for pointing out anything less than perfect), but rest assured that not a moment of your service to God escapes his notice. He is honored by it, and he promises to reward it for eternity:
“Day by day the Lord watches the good deeds of the godly and he prepares for them his forever-reward.” Ps. 37:18 (TPT)
- Rest and take care of your body.
Football coach Vince Lombardi observed, “Fatigue makes cowards of all of us.” Not only does exhaustion make us fearful, it can make us irritable, overwhelmed, and generally more vulnerable to attack by the enemy. It is precisely in our busiest season that we need to be extra vigilant to get rest and steward our bodies well. As Pastor Rick Warren says, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” That goes for you too, pastor.
In the craziness of Christmas, taking time to rest and prioritize health and family can be a stress in itself. We can struggle with thoughts of, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done!” Take it to Jesus – he’s called each of us to serve him out of the overflow of a full life. Perhaps this is an area to trust him in a new way – Jesus, if I prioritize what you say is important, including my health and family – will you pick up the slack? As the Bible says, “It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night… God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest” (Ps. 127:2 TLB). Kay Warren echos, “It takes faith to rest, because we must trust that God can continue to do his work without us.”
- Know that you’re on a team.
Ministry can be a lonely place. That’s why we love bringing pastors and church leaders together to encourage each other, share learnings, and walk alongside each other. We’re all on the same team – and we all know the challenges of working day in and day out on the front lines of a spiritual battle. Our team is here to pray for you, and we also encourage you to foster relationships with other pastors you can share your real self with – work frustrations and all. Church leaders need community too!
One reason this is so important is because we all struggle. Just because we are in church leadership doesn’t mean we’re immune to the hardships of life. Christmas has a way of turning up the heat on all the emotions – the good ones and the painful ones. Know that if you are in a place where the weight of your role or the circumstances of your life feel like too much – you aren’t the only one. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to not be okay. The enemy loves to attack like a wolf attacking sheep – isolating us from the rest of the flock and preying on our weakness. Don’t fall for the lie that you have to do it alone and always have it all together. The Bible says,
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ec. 4:9-10 (NLT)
- Take a deep breath – it’s Jesus’ church.
At Christmas time, we can feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Passion, tension, and budgets run high. As Pastor Rick says, we can get the idea that, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!” Take a deep breath pastor – it’s not our church, its Jesus’. While we’re called to steward his church, we also know that Jesus cares more about the lost than we ever could, and he is more than capable of reaching them with or without us. When times get tough, know that ultimately the responsibility – and all the capability – rests in our Lord’s capable hands. He told us that nothing will overcome his church, and he’s promised to give us strength and skill for the things to which he’s called us:
Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21)