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The holidays are a crazy time in the church. If we are not careful, we will find ourselves hating the Christmas season because we get burnt out and our tanks go empty. We all have special events, Christmas parties, special services, decorating the foyer and making sure we have enough candles. Resentment builds up, and we are left feeling more like a Scrooge instead of a Griswold.

On the other hand, as a leader in ministry, we should want to make much of this season to draw people in to experience Jesus. The holidays are a special time when people’s hearts are softened to experience the Gospel. Traditions and Christmas rhythms should be important to everyone involved in the church, especially us as leaders.

Here’s the thing: As a leader we must protect ourselves, our families and the ones we love during Christmas. Here are four ways that ministry leaders can survive the holiday season.

1. Check out when it’s time to check out.

Everyone takes a vacation or “holiday” during Christmas break. You will have days when the church is shut down. You will have days when you ask for time away, but if you don’t, you need to. When you do get away, make sure you are truly getting away—check out, disconnect, spend time with family and make each moment intentional and purposeful. YES, this means your emails and text messages can wait until it’s time to check back in.

2. Take care of your people.

If you supervise others, make sure you make them take time away. Next time you have a meeting, have everyone go around and share when they are taking off, what they plan to do, and hold them to it. Make your people disconnect and spend time with family. Another way to love them, if your church allows, is by giving them a Christmas bonus. This is a huge way to invest in them long term.  Work hard, do things with excellence, but make sure you play hard, too.

3. Set up boundaries.

Establish a line between family time and ministry time. The lines seem to blur during the holidays. If you get a phone call or email while you are spending time with family, please choose your family. Set up auto replies on your email and don’t be afraid to tell people, “I’m away right now, I’ll get back to you in a few days.”

4. Spend time with the Lord.

During the holidays, we are consistently encouraging our people to spend time with the Lord, to rest in Him during this season. You must practice what you preach. How are you spending personal time in prayer? How are you personally spending time in God’s word? When you work on your heart, you will have so much more to pour out to your family and to your ministry.

Lastly, every “yes” is a “no” to something. Please do NOT say “no” to your family.

Merry Christmas!

Bobby Cooley
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