I love Christmas. I love the stories, the traditions, and the gifts. But, I’ll be honest, this can be a really hard time of year.
And I know you can probably relate. We recently sent out a survey to some of the pastors who are members of our network and, at the end, we asked, “Just for fun: How excited are you for Christmas?” -- The result? Quite a few of the pastors were simply ready for the Christmas season to be over.
Not only is it a busy season of giving and spending time with family. But this can also be an emotional season for many of us and for those in our congregations.
Add the planning for your Christmas services to that and you may find yourself simply exhausted.
Our team honestly didn’t plan on writing anything “Christmas-themed” this year. Everywhere you look, there are articles to help you plan your Christmas service, PDFs you can download to help you retain guests, webinars to help you preach an original and compelling message, and the list goes on…
All of those things are great. And we should utilize many of those resources. But there’s something else that many of us need to hear during this holiday season:
Pastor, you need to rest. You need to breathe. And you need to rediscover the beauty of your Savior.
I’ve had to intentionally do this for myself recently. As someone who’s strongly driven and is energized by making progress on a project, it’s hard for me to take time to rest, to focus on my God, and to give myself space from the work of the ministry.
But, if we reject God’s example of rest, we slowly begin to adopt the perspective that we drive our ministry. We start to believe that He who began a good work will leave it to us to bring it to completion. And we hold fast to the misconception that our worth is determined by our performance.
If there’s one thing I know about the story of Jesus, it’s that “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
Instead of allowing this Christmas season to be a time that you just need to push through, let this be a time where you intentionally draw closer to your God. Let this be a season that you rediscover some truths in Scripture:
Let this be a season that you rediscover the beauty and the power and the mystery of the incarnation of Christ.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” - John 1:14
Let this be a season that you rediscover the One who gives rest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
Let this be a season that you rediscover the One who cares deeply for you.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:38-39
Let this be a season that you rediscover the One who values you so much He provided the gift of salvation as a free gift.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Pastor, we need to take time to rest. We need to trust our God with our ministry. And we need to give ourselves space to reconnect with Him.
I encourage you to intentionally make that a part of this holiday season.
Austin is the Managing Director here at 95Network. From Normal, IL, Austin gets that ministry can sometimes feel anything but “normal.” He grew up leading in the small church his dad pastored, and has since served on the launch teams for two church plants. He holds a Communications degree from Moody Bible Institute and is passionate about seeing churches grow healthier and make a difference in their communities. Austin and his wife, Larisa, reside near Peoria, IL.