The Casualty of Christmas


When Christmas hurts the heart of ministry leaders

This post is for all of us who ‘work’ in ministry.

It’s for all of us who are on staff, for elders and for volunteers who work so hard that they might as well pay you.

It’s Christmas, and while we sit on the best news to ever hit the planet – the coming of the Messiah – Christmas, like every major holiday for ministry leaders, can be a time of mixed blessing.

The biggest casualty of Christmas for those who work in ministry?

Your heart

Here’s why: it’s so much work to help others celebrate Christmas that we often lose any sense of celebration ourselves.

I know because I’ve been there. This year we’re doing six Christmas Eve services. For our team, it’s exhausting. For years I came home on Christmas Eve exhausted and could spend most of the Christmas holidays “recovering”.

It can make celebrating with your family challenging, because you spent all your energy helping others.

This Christmas, I want to encourage you to fight back and make sure you carve out time to personally celebrate the thing we so desperately want others to celebrate.

Over the years, I’ve found some ways that have helped me celebrate Christmas personally and with my family.

1. Find some quiet time. I got up at 5 this morning and spent some time alone in God’s word. Just for me. It set the course for my day. I’ll do the same on Christmas Day.  That’s my personal, private celebration. I normally do that every day, but it’s easy to miss when it gets busy.

2. Add a private, family celebration. We go to church as a family, but before we open presents Christmas morning, we pray, read the Christmas story and have some personal time together. I completely love what our church does at Christmas (our church rocks Christmas, seriously), but I want to mark it personally with my family too.  I think when the personal, family and public celebrations happen, my personal joy is at it’s deepest.

3. Be off when you’re off. “Off” looks different for all of us. Put your email on auto-responder. Shut down the stuff that drains you. And just be off.

4. Don’t overschedule. The week between Christmas and New Year’s can be a swap out of one kind of work for another, and you can run into the new year exhausted. We’ve kept lots of white space on the calendar on purpose. To refuel, recharge and reconnect.

5. Do something fun! Fun happens for me when I connect with the people closest to me, when I get exercise (biking in the summer, hiking and snowshoeing in the winter) and when I work on projects that are just recreational. I love writing, thinking through big issues I don’t spend enough time on and tackling new challenges. I’ve got a healthy dose of what’s fun for me (and us) on tap for the holidays.

I find when I do these things, my heart comes back more deeply engaged with God and with others.

What do you do to recharge? How do you avoid making your heart a casualty at Christmas?

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