“‘Tis the season to be jolly!” That’s what they say. But for the church worship staff, the “most wonderful time of the year” can easily be the most STRESSFUL time of the year. The demands of major Christmas productions and the job of motivating your volunteers to remain faithful during this busy time can be overwhelming, to say the least. And on top of that, Sundays keep coming…every week!
So, what can we do to not only survive the season, but actually enjoy it? Here are a few tips that have helped me maintain my seasonal sanity these past 25 years of church music ministry.
Surround Yourself with Good People
This is true any time of the year, but especially during the Christmas season. You can’t do it all yourself...and you shouldn’t. There are people in your ministry, whether paid staff or loyal volunteers, who are very capable of taking things off your plate. Let them! Position your people to win and you will too.
Take Care of Yourself
This one is a lot easier said than done. It’s really difficult to eat right and exercise when you’re at the church 12 hours a day getting ready for your Christmas production…not to mention the sleep deprivation. Still, you should make an effort to avoid the drive-thru (at least limit it to once a day) and go to the gym a couple of times a week. If you can’t find time for that, just go outside for 30 minutes and walk around your church property…anything to get you away from the desk and clear your head.
Don’t stay up all night either. Go to bed when you can and try to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep. You’ll feel better and be more effective in your work. Also, when you do have time to disconnect from it all, really disconnect. For me, those 3-4 days around Thanksgiving are when I unplug and re-charge. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it works.
Maintain a Consistent Quiet Time
In the midst of your 70-hour workweek, you must reserve time to be with Jesus. He is the “Bread of Life” and His Word is “a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.” Just as your body cannot function without physical nourishment, you will never be able to run on all cylinders without daily spiritual food at the Father’s table. Dr. Jerry Falwell, often said that he always had his quiet time first thing in the morning before he had to make a single decision. He knew that once his public day started, it was over. During this hectic time of the year, we are no different. We must make our quiet time a priority.
Schedule Family Time
This may sound insensitive and cheap, but just the opposite is true. There is no better way to communicate to my family just how much I value them than to schedule time with them when I have so little to give. Schedule family time and guard it! Flag it as SACRED on your calendar and cherish every moment of it. I believe your family will have a greater understanding of your schedule and will hold your arms up even longer when you carve out time for them.
Plan for January
That’s right. Start making preparations for the new choir year. If you’re anything like me, by the time you actually get to perform the Christmas music you’ve rehearsed for 3 months, you’ve had enough. You’re ready to sing “normal” music. Planning for January helps me stay focused on the big picture of choir ministry. In fact, I purchase more non-seasonal choir music during the month of December than any other time all year, simply because I’m gearing up for the best year ever! Get pumped about the New Year and it will rub off on your people. You’ll have more success in getting them out for that January 6th worship service.
And with that I say: ”Merry Christmas…and a Happy New Year!”