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Ensuring Christmas remains the most wonderful time of the year

By Shari Lau

Christmas used to be my favourite time of year. As a child and even into my young adult years, Christmas meant family time. It meant vacation. Christmas was about the never-ending stream of amazing meals, baked goods and festivities. There was list of movies to watch and there was the music, of course, which played on a continual loop in the background. It was – at one point – quite literally the most wonderful time of year.

Then I became a pastor’s wife.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being a pastor’s wife. I love being in ministry in general. And Christmas is still special. It’s just that being in ministry changes things – drastically – when it comes to my favourite holiday.

The Christmas season brings with it a different stream of never-ending challenges for those in ministry. It means year-end meetings as church boards look at the budget for the new year, all while ensuring they end the current year well. It means trying to focus on Christmas messages for Sunday while also trying to plan for what you want the theme/focus and teaching to be for the new year. Christmas means extra visitations to those who are ill or shut in or without family during the holiday season. It also means being invited to more parties than your schedule has time for and being involved in extra special events that aren’t normally on the calendar. And all this while trying to find time to enjoy the season with your own family, keep up family traditions, and even find time to simply rest and personally reflect on the meaning of the season for your own soul.

So, how can you be more intentional this holiday season as a ministry family? How can you avoid having this Christmas be more exhausting than refreshing? How can you make this Christmas more meaningful personally, while still caring for your church the way they need?

You can start by keeping things simple. Just as it was on that night so long ago when Jesus quietly made his entrance into the world, you can keep your Christmas simple by focusing less on the production of Christmas and more on the purpose of Christmas. His reason for coming was simple and yet so powerful. Your messages, your services, and even your decorations can be the same.

Second, you can go into the holiday season with a commitment to be more intentional. Focus on what’s truly important and say no to that which isn’t absolutely necessary. Don’t agree to one more holiday party just because you feel obligated to be there. Pick the events you choose to go to with intention, asking yourself what the desired outcome or purpose is. Will, for example, this party invitation give you a chance to meet with a group of people you rarely get time to connect with, or will it be with the same people you see and have conversations with daily? Is it necessary to come up with a unique spin on the Christmas story for your sermon, or would your congregation be better cared for if you simply led them back to the original, epic story of Jesus’ birth? Be intentional with your time and your words.

And finally, be still. Take time to deliberately carve out time for soul care and family time. Take a few minutes on nights when you are home to grab the kids before bed and snuggle in the glow of the Christmas tree lights. Go for a walk in the snow with your spouse. Get up a few minutes earlier than usual to grab a coffee and be alone with God. Take the time to be a part of the Christmas story, rather than the narrator of it. He came for you too and he wants to remind you of why.

So, as you head into your busiest month, focus on ways to once again make it the most wonderful time of the year by keeping it simple, being intentional, and taking time to care for your own soul by being still. Your congregation will benefit from it, as will your family. Merry Christmas!


Shari Lau is a pastor’s wife, missionary kid and manager of registrations for Kerith Retreats and Hope Restored. She has served at Focus on the Family Canada for 28 years.

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