Christmas week can be a very difficult time to be a pastor. This is a week with a lot of pressure and very high expectations. This is a very important time for the church as we see new visitors and pray for end-of the-year-giving to come in. It is also a time with a lot to be done both at church and at home. Here are 5 things I would remind pastors for having a great week.
1. Relax- It is not all up to you. The message of Christmas is that God became flesh and dwelt among us. We already have a savior. You are not Jesus. If you run around like you are the savior of the world or at least the savior of the church then you undermine the entire message of the season. Relax. Trust God to show up in your worship services. The hymns, tradition, and story have plenty of power to make Christmas special.
2. Your family is more important than your church family. Don’t neglect your own family. You will really regret it if you run the biggest church in the world but your children end up despising the church because of what you do. At our house, we arrange for Santa to come on the 24th. That way I can hang out with my family, go to Christmas Eve service, and then head to family’s houses on Christmas Day. Be creative in how you spend your holidays to maximize your focused time with your family.
3. Don’t forget to experience Christmas for yourself. I think I totally missed my own experience of Christmas my first 2 years in ministry. It is easy to get so busy doing Christmas that we don’t feel it at all. Take time to read the stories for yourselves. Watch a move about the life of Christ. Take time to meditate on the amazing thing that Christ did in becoming flesh.
4. Take some time off. Most of us put in a lot of hours getting read for Christmas. Take some time off. I personally do not like to take the Sunday after Christmas off because I want to be there in case visitors come back. What I do is a simple service with a lot more singing and a very short sermon that I have worked ahead on. In fact, I do that the first Sunday in January as well so that I have those two weeks to rest, recover, and spend a lot of time with my wife and kids.
5. Buy yourself a present for the Holidays. I always buy myself a good and refreshing book Christmas that I am going to spend some time with while I take some time off. This year I have 2 books: In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen and Imagining Redemption by David Kelsey. The blessing is that I have those books to look forward to as a reward for after the craziness of Christmas.
Whatever your methods, remember this: The best way to take care of your church is to take care of yourself and your family. Merry Christmas.