The holidays are a hectic season for anyone, but even more so for those of us in ministry and Christian spaces. In the chaos of the holidays, it’s easy to accidentally or intentionally send your teams a message of “just do what needs to be done to survive this season.” The issue with this message is that not only does it lose sight of the purpose for why you do what you do, but it also opens doors to allow bad habits to form. When you spend the holiday season overwhelmed, cutting corners, and working without proper rest, don’t be surprised when those habits bleed over into the new year. Those habits are hard to rewire and can put your culture in a place you don’t want it to be.
As we head into this holiday season, here are four areas you need to address in order to make sure you maintain good habits and a culture of excellence, encouragement, and purposeful work in this season.
1. Good Physical Habits
Thanksgiving and Christmas are fun holidays that should be restful, with all of that PTO given, but for many in the church, they are anything but. Christmas especially may feel like the finish line of a marathon, and so it’s critical that you pace yourself. Not getting proper sleep and overworking yourself to the point of burnout will not set you up to succeed come January. The success of your Christmas services, donor campaigns, and events are not worth your staff’s physical health preventing them giving their all this season. Encourage your teams to make sure that in the coming two months, they are getting proper sleep, physical activity, healthy nutrition, and have them hold you accountable for the same. You cannot run a marathon fatigued on an empty tank.
Like Executive Search Consultant Eric Albert shared in a previous blog, “Physical rest is an important way to ensure you’re able to sustain the everyday demands you face. You can honor the vessel God has blessed you with by being intentional about resting physically.” You cannot rely on your own strength to thrive in a season like this, but you also cannot neglect the body that God gave you in order to accomplish the works he has set out for you.
2. Good Mental Habits
Allow yourself to take a break from being mentally stimulated. You are likely processing a lot of information right now, whether that is plans for holiday services, upcoming dates, deadlines, or end-of-year goals, and it’s important to allow yourself time away from those overwhelming thoughts. Set boundaries to prevent yourself from overextension. Choose to spend time a few times a week doing something that is actually restful for your brain, rather than just creating a quiet space where you allow your brain to drift back to everything on your to-do list. Whether that is reading for pleasure, going on walks and listening to your favorite music, or spending time with your family where your devices are inaccessible, it’s important to intentionally step away from ministry tasks and steward your mental health. It is also critical that you ask your staff to do the same; a team needs both mentally rested leaders and team members to thrive and to avoid burnout. And remember Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
3. Good Emotional Habits
The end of the year is a time of reflection and anticipation. If you do not allow yourself time to sit back and consider your accomplishments, failures, and everything in between from the past year, you may find it hard to have motivation moving into the new year. Take time to emotionally process and acknowledge what has been a difficult year for many, and celebrate the accomplishments and victories you’ve achieved thus far.
It’s also important to make sure that as you set goals for the upcoming year, that you do not jump ahead, but rather continue to do good, excellent work now. Cutting corners to reach next year’s goals will only create problems for the future. Find a balance between planning for the future and excelling in the present.
4. Good Spiritual Habits
When you work in ministry, the lines between the personal and the professional can easily be blurred, and true rest can be hard to do well. But it’s critical that you spend intimate time with Jesus outside of preaching, reading, studying, or doing ministry work. Just because you spend plenty of time talking about Jesus or his bride does not mean that you are actually letting yourself be nourished by him.
In busy seasons like the holidays, when we’re spending extra time preparing to celebrate Emmanuel, we can get so caught up in our tasks, we forget that while God is with us, we need to be with him too. Christmas does not automatically bring you nearer to Christ – you have to draw near to him yourself. Remind yourself and your team of James 4:8. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. If you allow your personal time with God to be replaced by ministry and work tasks, do not be surprised to find yourself feeling disconnected from the Lord in the new year.
Here at Vanderbloemen, we are passionate about setting up ministries for success. We want to provide good workplace solutions for the bride of Christ. But ultimately, your ministry’s success relies on your habits and the culture that they create. Choose to be purposeful in this season and set a good example for the body of Christ as a whole by refusing to cave to the pressures of the busyness, pursuing rest, and setting habits that will foster a healthy culture going into the new year.