The holidays are stressful. Shopping. Parties. Family. Finances. Weather. As I finish up the manuscript for my book Mad Church Disease: Healing from Ministry Burnout, I am reminded how much difference a little intentionality makes as we journey across the days of December.
These four things help me to daily the postures I’ll take this season and in doing so, maybe make things a lot less stressful in the process.
- Friends: Engage your friends. People travel, everyone seems busy, but reaching out to your friends during the holidays isn’t just good for you, it’s good for them. Even a simple text message to say hi and ask how someone is doing can be the only light someone sees on a really cloudy day.
- Rest: Rest is my favorite thing to do. After I stressed myself out so terribly eight years ago (so much that I was hospitalized for a week), resting is priority for me and my family. Even if this means emails, phone calls and texts go unanswered for a day or two, rest. In the Christmas season, it’s hard to have a Sabbath day, but do it anyway. And rest in the fact that you’re being obedient in the process.
- Pray: It’s an obvious discipline, but one that can fall to the wayside in my own life when I’m busy. Even though it may feel rote, commit to certain times to pray every day. For Tim and me, we pray before every meal and then we have an intercessory time before we go to bed. Every single day. One sentence prayers are also a big thing: “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”…”God, change me!” ….”Lord, help…” Meditating on scripture in the stillness of our own mind keeps us constantly in touch with what God might have for us to do.
- Be Thankful: It can’t be said enough: Keeping an attitude of thankfulness takes the focus off our circumstances and places it back on the God who gave us His son. In light of the coming of Christ to save us for our sins, long check out lines, annoying family members, even the bigger things like finances and health disappear into the shadows. What if you wrote down one thing you’re thankful for every day? And what if you shared it with a friend? I have a feeling the hope and joy would spill out and encourage both of you.
It is so very much in my DNA to desire health and peace and joy for those who minister either by profession or in every day life. We are all called to it and there’s nothing more Satan would like to do than to distract us from celebrating and sharing this miraculous and sacred time of the year.
I would like to help you stay encouraged from now until the new year. I woke up this morning and felt compelled to start something that could encourage you daily, so I logged into my email account and made a new list for surviving Christmas.
By signing up, starting tomorrow, each day I’ll send you a very short note of encouragement, tips to stay healthy, some scripture and prayer…something new each day. I’ll also include a link to a talk (either video or audio – your choice) I recently gave on choosing joy this advent season that goes further into these four ideas.
It doesn’t cost you anything and I won’t try and sell you anything. But if you’d like to sign up, you can do so using the form below. If your browser doesn’t show a form or you have problems, just click this link to sign up.
Do you have any tips on how to stay healthy and proactive during the Christmas season?