Six Ways to Recover From Christmas
By Jon Nicol
An Open Letter to the Yule-Stressed Worship Leader
Dear Worship Leader,
It's almost Christmas. Which means it's almost time for you to relax. Almost.
Second only to Easter, you've likely had, or are about to have, your biggest service of the year. For you, that might be a cantata with a fourth of your church in the choir. Or a time-consuming dramatic production. Or a bunch of special testimonies that you coordinated. Or extra videos and graphics to go along with the message series that you produced.
Or all of the above.
And besides all the "special" and "extra" stuff, you had to do all things that no one realizes, but they all expect:
First there's the music...
You scoured to find arrangements that bring some freshness to the "heard-it-and-sung-it-a-million-times" music of the holiday. And when you couldn't, you created your own arrangement. And how many hours have you put in to get all the charts and recordings out to the team…only to hear complaints that it wasn't quick enough, or they don't like the arrangement.
And don't forget the added pressure to make sure everyone's favorite carol is covered at some point in December. I realized I failed to schedule "The First Noel" this year. I'll probably hear about that one. Which one did you forget?
Then there's your team member's personal schedules to contend with...
Who's out of town on the 3rd weekend. Who's got an office party they can't miss on rehearsal night. Who "doesn't do" Christmas Eve services because of their long-standing traditions with their spouse's side of the family.
Add to all this your own crazy schedule...
Your kids' programs. Party's you need to hit. Presents you need to buy. Cards you need to send. Family gatherings you need to coordinate. It's the stuff everyone goes through. But not everyone is also a worship leader. And they just don't get that when you try to explain.
You, my friend, deserve a week of Dec 26ths.
It might be too late to arrange a few of these, but here are some ideas for decompressing after Christmas:
1. Take a Sunday off. Soon.
Even if your church has to worship with a iPod as their band. And don't just "not lead." Skip church, and not just your own. Don't go anywhere. Worship leaders get over-churched and need a break. Besides, if you went somewhere else you'd just sit and analyze what they're doing. I'm right, or am I right?
Or even better...
2. Take a whole week off. Really soon.
There's nothing worse than pushing through a season like Christmas only to immediately re-enter the grind of weekly worship leading. Even though you're in it for the long haul, ministry isn't a marathon. It's a series of sprints and rests. Find the rhythm that allows to do both well.
3. Do something utterly "selfish."
- Get a massage or spend a day at the spa.
- Spend a day locked away with a good book.
- Rent 4 movies that you love and watch them all in one day. In your pajamas.
- Go to an indoor golf center and hit some balls.
- Take a long drive.
- Get rid of the kids for a few hours and reintroduce yourself to your spouse. Make a little whoopy. (Yeah, I said it.)
4. Embrace the simple for a few weeks/months.
Easter will be here before you know it. So keep things simple and allow the systems you've created to do the heavy lifting. I'm not suggesting you lead worship on auto-pilot. But don't feel the pressure that every service needs to "top" the last one.
5. Plan to say no.
Make a list of five common requests you wish you would've said no to this year. Spend a few minutes counting the cost of saying yes. Now spend more time imagining the freedom of politely declining these kinds of requests next year. Go and say yes no more.
6. Schedule an appointment with a counselor.
Was the holiday that bad that you need therapy? Maybe, but more likely you just need to have some guilt free unloading. $75 is a bargain to have a chance to verbally dump all your stuff out on someone who's not emotionally tied to you. Your spouse would probably be happy to pay for it.
So when the little white candles have all been collected after the Christmas Eve Service, and you've enjoy the 25th with your family, take some time for yourself. It's not a matter of having to earn it or deserve it (although you have). It's a matter of needing it. And you, my worship leader friend, need it.
And just know that you have every right to see "self-care" as an option or a luxury. But you'll also have the luxury of burn-out if you do.
Merry Christmas. And somewhere soon may you find the true comfort, joy and peace which feeds your soul and revives your heart.
Your fellow worship leader,
Question: How do you unwind after Christmas?
By the way, if you need some where to unload sooner, here's a place to vent where people know your pain...
December 19, 2012Tweet