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5 Keys to Making Sure Your Christmas Break Doesn’t Break You Or Your Family (A Post for Driven Leaders)


So Christmas break (following your Christmas services) is almost here and you’re trying to take some time off.

Ever notice that’s what driven leaders say all the time?

I’m going to try to take two weeks off.

I’ll try to unplug.

I’m trying to relax.

We A-types stink at vacation, don’t we?

It’s also really tough if you’re married to us. Or, we’re your parents.

How do I know this?

Because I’m one of you. I’m speaking my native tongue.

Being a driven kind of person, the idea of doing nothing but resting is unsettling for me.

But I also understand how important it is.

Sabbath is God’s idea. And, as I discovered when I burned out if you don’t take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you.

I know people who can take time off easily… they don’t worry, they’re never tempted to check email, they can easily shut down social media for a week, and they find a hammock to be relaxing.

That person is not me.  I think a few of you can relate.

What’s frustrating is that you hear people give advice all the time about powering down, not checking email, getting offline and just relaxing…vacation is easy for them. But not for some of us. 

Over the years, I’ve developed these 5 rules for rest that, if observed, make shutting off all the devices and truly taking a break easier. I’ve shared them before, but I have to come back to them again and again.

When I don’t follow them, I ruin my holiday. And I’ve done that a few times too.

Overall, the rules help me, as a driven person, relax better.

See if they help you.

If you don't take the Sabbath, the Sabbath will take you. Click To Tweet

1. Prepare for your Christmas break, don’t just take it

I used to run into my holidays full speed, and it would take me half my holidays to unwind.

Take some time before your holiday to prepare for your holiday. Use your evenings to rest up before you leave.

Pack ahead of time. Build the anticipation. When I do this, I can start day one of vacation fully rested and ready to enjoy.

Last year for the first time, I took a week off before our family left for a week together, just to unwind alone and be ready for them when they were free. It helped.

2. Equip your team, and yourself, for your break 

Leaving work behind is hard work.

I wasn’t good at this for years.  Now I spend time before leaving asking “what does my team need while I’m away so they can run optimally and so I can rest?”

Or this year, what do we ALL need to do so EVERYONE can have a full break?

If all of that is lined up, then they have what they need and I can get what I need: peace of mind, knowing everything will be okay.

The next step is even more important: let go.

If you do this right when you’re away, your ministry will grow even when you’re not engaged in it. I’ve taken a month off more than once. And when I truly release the team to do what they do best, our church has grown. Last year, when I was off for a month,  my podcast had the single biggest month in its history to that point (I lined up all the episodes before I left and gave my team the job of posting them).

You know what I learned? When you let go, you grow and things grow.

Early in my leadership, I never would have believed it. Now I do.

When you let go, you grow and things grow. Click To Tweet

3.  Delegate authority and responsibility

While this is good practice all the time, make sure you leave behind real decisions, real authority and real responsibility.

If you can’t give the entire team a break, then make sure those who are off are truly off, which means delegation. Let your team can call the shots while you’re away. Don’t look at email at all or let your assistant handle it for your entire break.  If you don’t have an assistant, use an autoresponder and plan to spend your first or second day back sorting through email.

And if your assistant is off, everyone should just hit the auto-responder.

If you plan for it, you won’t worry about it while away. A solid plan defeats worry.

A solid plan defeats worry. Click To Tweet

4.  Focus on what fuels you

Christmas break can be draining for anyone with all the gatherings, travel and people.

Smart leaders know what refuels them and decide to at least sneak in some time for themselves.

For some, that might be reading a book by the fire. For others, it might be movies and dinner. For others, it might be throwing parties and having a full house.

Everyone’s different.

Don’t let someone else’s idea of rest determine how you will rest, or you’ll end up returning to work exhausted.

Don't let someone else's idea of rest determine how you will rest, or you'll end up returning to work exhausted. Click To Tweet

That’s exactly how, so many times, you end up saying you need a vacation to recover from your vacation.

If you don’t know what fuels you, even your vacation can drain you.

If you don't know what fuels you, even your vacation can drain you. Click To Tweet

5. Pick a goal for your holidays

My drivenness can make me feel like I waste time while away. Obviously, one of my goals is to spend meaningful time with my family; I also use vacation time as a time to connect with God.

But I’ve learned if I pick some goals for my holidays, it makes me feel better and enjoy my time alone and with my family more. Your goal can be as simple as reading a few books, taking some pictures, or even a fitness goal.

Or it might be to sleep eight hours every night or hike for 10 miles.

I feel less restless and more rested if I set a few goals.

If you’re a driven person, maybe you can relate.

If you're a really driven person, try setting some (relaxing) goals for your vacation. Click To Tweet

Make 2019 a Far Better Year

Driven leaders usually struggle with all this. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

So how has 2018 been for you as a leader?

Pam from Red Rock Church in Colorado Springs calls the High Impact Leader “a gamechanger.”

Dave from Invitation Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a married pastor of a new church plant who has two kids under the age of five says:

“Just wow. Thank you. The course helped me identify my priorities and work to bring clarity in all phases of my life.  I feel SO, SO, SO much more freedom.”

And that’s the goal. I hope that’s what will happen in your life.

We’re currently offering some free, limited time bonuses for everyone who jumps in on this offering of the High Impact Leader course.

To learn more or to enroll now, click here.

In the meantime, what have you learned about getting and staying healthy in leadership? And why do you think over-working traps so many leaders?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

Do you stink at vacation?

How about you?  What vacation rules do you have?

Or do you just unplug and think A types are crazy?

Scroll down and leave a comment!


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  3. ANYAORAH EMMANUEL on December 26, 2018 at 1:46 am

    We must at all times try to overcome stress, by delegating

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