I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: 7 WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DOWN TIME THIS CHRISTMAS
Guest Post by Nick Mobley
The holidays are a special kind of busy. For many church leaders, we’re managing end of the year events such as fellowships and Christmas services, as well as ministering to the needs of those in our community and congregation.
For church members, these are part of family traditions and opportunities they look forward to each year.
For the church leader, these final weeks of the year can feel like the last mile of a marathon.
On top of that, the mere anticipation of all that the new year brings can also add to fatigue and anxiety.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Certainly the peace, hope, joy, & renewal discussed so often during Christmas can also be ours.
Far too many times I’ve coasted through the Christmas calendar checking off lists and events, never stopping to consider the true reason for the season. Instead of enjoying the small moments or making memories with my family, my mind is consumed with what comes next on the calendar.
There are also times when I’ve worked so hard on preparing for the new year that I failed to appreciate the joys of the Christmas season. By dwelling on what was to come next, I missed the joy and renewal of what God had for me in the here and now.
Does any of the above sound familiar? Do you wish it were just a little bit easier to draw nearer to God and your loved ones this Christmas?
If so, below are a few suggestions on how to make the most of your down time this Christmas. Because we all need a little extra grace and flexibility during this season.
1.Take care of your body – It’s ok to enjoy some extra treats but try not to overindulge or neglect vital rhythms like adequate sleep routines and regular physical activity. This isn’t a guilt trip to shame us into a healthier lifestyle; rather, it’s an encouragement to steward our bodies well so that our hearts and minds can be filled this season. Take a nap. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Host a Christmas dance party with your kids.
Ask yourself: What sounds fun today? Listen to your body. Free yourself from expectations and do something you enjoy.
2. Reconnect with your family – as ministry leaders, our spring and summer breaks are filled with camps and various church events. So, if we fail to utilize the holiday season to adequately reconnect with our loved ones, we may miss out on crucial opportunities that are difficult to recreate throughout the rest of the year. Be present with your loved ones – if you catch your mind wandering to outside responsibilities and obligations, gently bring it back to the present. Remember for our spouses and children, love can also be spelled T-I-M-E.
Ask yourself: “It’s been a long time since our family … (fill in the blank).” Had dinner together at the table? Enjoyed a movie?Gone for a walk? Played a game? Our families can likely give us a quick idea on how to simply and effectively make this happen.
3. Unplug – reconnecting with family can be challenging until we unplug from the rest of the world! If we’re not careful, our down time can be quickly consumed by scrolling through timelines or checking emails. Wisdom would have us be mindful of how much time we spend engaging screens instead of our loved ones.
Ask yourself: What do I need to put down or turn off? Do I really need access to my phone or computer 24/7? Is there an app to delete or set of notifications to turn off to help keep my eyes and mind attentive to those most important to me? Be encouraged – your family will undoubtedly notice your efforts to be fully present with them. Doing so during this time of year may not be easy, but it could be the most important thing you do to make the most of your time this Christmas!
4.Take time for soul care – leaders that care for others constantly without shepherding their own soul are in danger of experiencing burnout soon. Read that book you purchased but never opened. Listen to the podcast that caught your attention or pick up that Bible study you’ve wanted to do all year but struggled to find the time. Choose a resource or activity that ministers to you personally and isn’t necessarily related to your ministry.
Ask yourself: What do you need from the Lord? Is there a deep longing or cry of the heart that you’ve not surrendered to Him. Remember the message of Christmas is that God came near because He loved us and knows that we cannot do it on our own. Run to Him. Lean on Him. Let Him care for the deepest needs of your heart and life.
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8a, NIV)
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4, NIV)
5. Reflect – review the course of the year and take inventory of memories made, experiences had, and lessons learned.
Ask yourself: What were three highlights this year? What were three of the most challenging or difficult moments? What made each highlight or struggle so significant? Consider organizing a photo album for the year to help you and your family recall key moments experienced throughout 2021. Pick one photo for each month or print several off to remind you of each highlight. Reflecting on each of these reminds us of God’s faithfulness throughout the year, both in our own lives and in the life of the church in which we serve.
6. Do something creative – During busy seasons, we don’t always have time for those activities that can be soul-refreshing. Take this time to create something in whatever format appeals to you most. Whether it’s baking, painting, building, or playing an instrument – give yourself permission to have some fun with an activity that won’t be critiqued by anyone else!
Ask yourself: Is there a particular activity or hobby that I’d enjoy most this Christmas? If it didn’t have to go perfectly OR be observed by or presented to anyone else, what new activity would I enjoy trying for the first time? If you’re unsure about it – invite your spouse or your kids along for the journey and make it a family experience. Whatever you choose, have fun, and allow your creative juices to flow freely without fear of failure or judgment.
7. Glance Ahead Without Dread – glance ahead to the new year just enough so that you can identify any tasks & responsibilities that require attention before the end of this year.
Ask yourself: what’s the first major event or responsibility I have in 2022? Input deadlines so that you can prioritize your time and resources accordingly. Doing so may provide peace of mind and allow you to be fully present with our loved ones over Christmas break. Being aware of those responsibilities that are most urgent as the new year keeps me from being immediately overwhelmed by the recoil that inevitably happens on January 2nd.
One final thought…
“The Lord is with you…”
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (NIV)
This is the message of Christmas. God came near to reside with and redeem fallen man. God’s presence undoubtedly brought Mary comfort as she pondered the message she had received. As 2021 concludes, I pray that the presence of the Lord Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit brings you the assurance, peace, rest, and comfort that only He can provide.
Connect with your parents in less than five minutes!
Download & send these digital resources to your parents.
A PRAYER GUIDE FOR YOUR FAMILIES & 2 PARENT VIDEOS.