Every store has the music. Decorations and lights line the streets. Everywhere you turn, including your church, you’re reminded that it is the most wonderful time of the year.
But what do you do when it does not feel like the most wonderful time of the year? What do you do when those whom you minister to do not feel holly and jolly? What do you do when you, the one who is to triumph the reason for the season, is ready for the season to be over?
Personally, I have had some trouble getting into the “Christmas spirit” this year. I love Christmas: the lights, the sounds, the smells and especially the reason for the season. It’s been a great surprise to me to not be enthused about Christmas. The following are a couple of steps I took to battle the humbug growing in my soul.
Remembering that Christmas is not about me. I really want Christmas to be about me. Even though theologically I know its not and as a parent I tell my kids it is not about them, there are times that I do not want that rule to apply to me.
This subtle attitude seemed to fuel my disenchantment with the season. So the first step I took was to do something for someone else.
I found a local non-profit, not connected to my church, which was collecting presents for children without, and I bought a Christmas present. This simple yet profound step is good both for the child and myself.
In caring for your own soul and for the souls of others, you take a much-needed step to remind of importance and attitude of giving (Phil. 2:4 – 8).
I needed to take an intentional step to remind myself that Christmas is not about me: even though I want it to be.
Remembering that new memories must be created. Memories just don’t happen; but regrets do.
Memories happen because you invited that couple to your house. Memories happen because you accepted the invitation. Memories happen because you carved time out to do something ridiculous and down right silly with your wife and kids. Memories must be created.
Your wife and kids may not remember the great ministries you led or the number of people who came to know the Lord through those ministries, but they will always remember the late night ice cream runs in your pajamas just to look at Christmas lights.
I needed the reminder that Christmas memories are made. And then make some.
Remembering to pause. Each Christmas there seems to be unending number of events to attend, celebrations to enjoy and white elephant gifts to exchange.
The last thing busy people, especially busy pastors need, to do is go to another party. To an extravert the idea of missing a party is blasphemy; to the introvert it is freedom. To everyone it is an invitation to rest, to pause to be filled.
After all the reason for the season said, “Come to Me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28).
Too many pastors and ministry staff are holding their collective breath waiting for Christmas to be over only to spin things back up again for Easter. They are teetering on the edge of burnout. We must intentionally take time to pause, to think, to pray, and be okay in not deriving our value from an already overly scheduled schedule.
Christmas is now on an up note in my life. There are still many things to do, many places to be, and many people to see. My recent experiment has revealed that by remembering that Christmas is not about me, intentionally creating some memories and pausing it is finally beginning to look a lot like the most wonderful time of the year.