Church Leaders, Don't Forget to Slow Down and Celebrate Christmas Too

When will you have an opportunity to savor the Savior? (

If you're the pastor or on the church staff, you carry the role of host at Christmas.

Planning for weeks to share the good news of Jesus' birth, you can't wait for the guests to arrive. It's going to be wonderful. You can hardly wait.

You've already had services on Sunday, and Christmas Eve is near—more services!

You've invested many weeks designing and communicating the invitation. The worship teams have rehearsed for countless hours. Then, of course, writing the sermon, God's Word carrying the good news. From the parking lot to the hospitality teams to the children's ministry and, of course, that special Christmas coffee—there is so much involved.

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You are praying and praying for people to respond to the invitation at the end of the service...

The big question in this grand celebration of the birth of the Savior is:
When will you have an opportunity to savor the Savior?

And, of course, don't forget the preparation for Christmas fun with your family.

Back to the question:

How do you connect with the Savior in the crazy of Christmas?

I love the Christmas season, so for me, it's a good kind of crazy, but let me share three cautions we all need to be on the lookout for:

—Carrying so much that the gospel becomes a grind.

—Missing the holy in all the hustle.

—You are so invested in the church family that you overlook your own family.

There is good news for you too—how to handle these three cautions:

  1. God can carry what you can't carry. My strong hunch is that you are gifted, have great experience and are passionate about the vision. You can carry a heavy leadership load.

However, you can't carry it all.

You can carry only a finite and specific load of leadership responsibility. That responsibility isn't random; it is strategic and holy.

When you try to carry too much, the glory of the gospel can become a grind.

Be careful that Christmas doesn't become something mechanical that you need to get through rather than a joyous experience you get to lead.

What are you carrying that you can lay it down and let it go? Or hand off to someone else who would love to handle it and maybe do it better than you do?

It might not be a leadership responsibility.

Perhaps you are carrying some hurt, anger or discouragement. And piled on top of everything else, it's just too much.

Allow yourself to catch your breath or begin to heal if needed.

Talk it through with a couple of close friends you trust and respect and lean into God's grace.

Let God carry what you can't carry.

  1. You really do have the freedom to slow down for a few minutes. I can't count how many times I've told myself that "I have to work; there is just no time to stop because there is too much to do." The problem is, that's not true.

Yes, there is an unending amount of work to be done, but it's not true that I can't stop. It's up to me to stop working. It's up to you too.

Take some time to slow down and soak in the mystery of the gospel. There will always be some mystery in the supernatural.

Because we are fully in the natural realm as a human being, there are things about God that are beyond our ability to fully grasp. For example, attributes such as eternal, infinite, omnipotent, and omnipresent, etc.

Yet, you can quietly meditate on the mind-blowing and humbling truth of your relationship with Jesus. Even more, you can engage and enjoy it!

The freedom is yours for the taking.

When can you get some quiet time just for you to reflect on the majesty of what Christmas represents?

  1. Promise yourself that you will shut work down and enjoy your family. Yesterday a friend told me he gets one day off this week. Wednesday, Christmas day is the only day he gets off from work. But he assured me that day would be spent entirely with his family.

My hunch is that you can get a few more days off than my friend.

Have you set aside some family time? What are your plans?

It's not always a leadership responsibility that prevents family time over the holidays. Sometimes it's due to being emotionally distant, distracted or anxious about things you can't change.

This is a great opportunity to embrace the truth that you share with so many others.

Jesus brings the peace that you need and desire.

I recommend four things that you can do over this week and next.

—Find the lighter side; laughter is medicine for your soul.

—Take a few moments for heartfelt conversations with those you love. They don't have to be long, but they need to be sincere.

—Plan one fun thing that has nothing to do with work with at least a few family members. (After family Christmas celebrations, we're going to see Star Wars! How about you?)

—Set aside quiet time to think and pray.

"For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

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