When I was a rookie pastor in my first two years of ministry, I loved to pour as much energy into the seasons of ministry as I possibly could: Easter! The beginning of school! Mission festivals! Aaaaaand…. Christmas!
I would keep myself…and every other person I possibly could…busy. We would have special events. We would keep people hopping with Bible studies. Worship was as high energy as I could make it.
And there was a price to paid for all of this. I so remember my second Christmas as a pastor. I was swamped with all the regular life of the church PLUS all the special stuff that I felt was necessary to make Christmas happen. I was not sleeping well, nor was I sleeping enough. Constantly tired, I was easily overwhelmed. That December I was a close acquaintance of Mr. Maalox and was simply drinking that antacid out of the bottle on a daily basis.
My dad figured this out. He had been a pastor for over a generation. One day he called me, and as we talked he said, “Scott, what are you doing all of this for? People know how to celebrate Christmas. They don‟t need your help.”
You mean I didn‟t have to push myself to the brink of ill-health, insanity, and divorce just to make sure Christmas happened?
So, I developed a new strategy that I want to share with you. I‟m hoping you can adopt parts of this to make your holidays brighter! Starting that year, I immediately changed my attitude. I resolved that on December 31, I would look back on Advent, Christmas, and the coming New Year and truthfully say to myself, “I really enjoyed that holiday season. December was a really good month.” In order to enable this to become reality, I soon figured out that I had to take that one step further. I had to be able to say at the end of each day, “I really enjoyed today. Today was a really good day.”
And so I began building things into each and every day. Even if it was one small thing, it still made my day better and brighter. In turn I discovered that I was helping to make other peoples‟ days better and brighter. So, here are some of the things that I do that help to make my Decembers wonderful:
– I try to start my days in Bible study and prayer. It helps me start the day off with a good heart.
– I try to get to a coffee shop on a regular basis with friends and family. It‟s really fun if they let me buy.
– I try to sleep a solid night‟s sleep EVERY night, and then wake up without the alarm clock.
– I try to write letters and Christmas cards all the way through December. Writing by hand makes me feel relaxed and connected to others.
– I try to bring as much personal joy as possible into worship.
– I try to spend as much time as I can with Colleen and all my family.
– I try to not spend too much on Christmas gifts. Why buy a Rolls Royce when what they really wanted was a new pair of socks?
– I try to pace my Christmas shopping so that I‟m not rushed, BUT… I always try to finish up as late as possible on Christmas Eve. It‟s so much fun to be in the stores and talk with people then.
– I try to make excuses to laugh.
– I try to go visit specific people just „cuz they are fun to be with.
– I try to watch “It‟s a Wonderful Life” with someone who has never seen it before.
– I try to invite friends over for supper on occasion. (Especially if it‟s to eat together then watch “It‟s a Wonderful Life” that they have never seen before.)
– I try to find extra special ways to be generous, especially if it can be done in secret.
– I try to walk in the falling snow with someone I love.
Oh my goodness, there are just so many things that make a day wonderful. How is it with your soul this December? Rushed? Hectic? Busy, busy, busy? Exhausted? Frustrated? Broke? All of the above?
Here is your invitation to recreate your December! Put Christ right at the center of each day, and then enjoy that day….every day!