The following post was written by Chris Swain, Director of Lifeway Student Ministry Publishing
Ministering to Your Family During Holidays
Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or the 4th of July, there is rarely a holiday in which a minister takes a break. These special times of the year are most often associated with family get-togethers and vacations in which many people travel far and wide to spend time with their loved ones. Regardless of whether you typically stay home through the season to help with church related events or programming, or if you travel for miles to see extended family, the reality is that the holidays can be tough on a minister. For those outside the life of day-to-day ministry, it is difficult to understand the kind of rest a minister needs. Additionally, the expectations that can be presented to ministers in these situations can feel like a burden more than a blessing. Here are a few tips to minister to your family during the holidays:
- Communicate. The only way your extended family will ever be able to understand how you need to rest is by hearing you lay it out there. While these key times can often be more stressful, you owe it to yourself and your family to help them see what your needs are. You may love every facet of being the minister in a family that has high expectations over Christmas and other holidays, but you may struggle to always be the go-to for prayer and spiritual advice. The reality is that ministry isn’t easy and there really never is a true “off switch”. But you can help by communicating your expectations and needs in a Christ-like loving way that will help your family understand.
- Don’t Jesus Juke. While it may seem like that thirteenth prayer you are asked to pray over the meal (you know, because you’re a minister and that means you’re closer to God and everything) might seem like a great opportunity to help those in your family far from God see the error of their ways, don’t. For those in your extended family, you truly might be the closest thing to Jesus they experience throughout the year. Rather than getting frustrated, use the opportunity to show them the love of Christ. Often it is our families that get the least of our ministry effort, and God can use our unique relationships with those closest to us to do His work.
- Reflect Christ. Jesus told us that no prophet is accepted by their own hometown (Luke 4:24). While ministry can look different because of the role you serve in, the reality is that those who have known you the longest look differently at what you do. For some of your extended family it can be a challenge to see you in the light of the ministry work that you do. Take the holiday opportunities to reflect Christ and allow His finished work and grace to shine through you. Do this without being preachy or aloof. Only Jesus can make the difference in the lives of those in your extended family, and He wants to use you to make an impact.
- Rest. It may only be for a few hours while your extended family watches the kids, but you need to rest. Take time to reflect on the meaning of the holiday and be present with your family. If it is Christmas, focus in on the meaning behind the season. Prioritize at least some time to rest in the moment and celebrate what Christ is doing with you through ministry.
Celebrating Christmas and other holidays throughout the year may be a challenge for you. But take time to enjoy these seasons as you walk through them with your extended family. Making the most of these special times will have a great impact on the memories you make for years to come. More importantly, putting Christ first and seeing these times through the lens of the Gospel will have an eternal impact on those God has put in your life.