holiday schedule, finding balance, youth ministry

Finding Balance During the Holidays

By Andy Lawrenson December 20, 2017

No getting around it, the holidays are here. Life seems to be speeding up at the very time we should be slowing down to really focus on who Christmas is all about. It’s not hard to fill weeknights and weekends with our kid’s school programs and our church’s musicals, not to mention all the Christmas parties hosted by your staff, ministry team, and friends.

“You’re in danger of wearing yourself out. We need to make a plan to preserve our schedules and make sure we don’t miss out on special family-time during the Christmas season.”

You’re in danger of wearing yourself out. We need to make a plan to preserve our schedules and make sure we don’t miss out on special family-time during the Christmas season.

Here are a few ideas:

Sync Up Calendars. In our home, we use iCal on our iPhones so that we can make sure everything that could impact our family is scheduled and on the calendar. My wife and I both input events. With today’s technology—like Google calendars and iCal—there is no reason why all your events can’t be in one place. If you are single and don’t have to sync calendars with anyone, take time to make sure your calendar is up to date with what’s ahead.

Staff Meeting. I don’t mean a staff meeting with those you work with. My wife and I take advantage of two things in our weekly schedule:
A. The kids are at school.
B. I don’t work on Fridays.
So, we meet every Friday morning for breakfast at a local restaurant and take time to walk through the next week on the calendar to make sure we are on the same page. We then look ahead at the coming weeks to make sure we are aware of any major event we need to prepare for. The key is faithfully putting events on the calendar. If you’re single, find a quiet place like a coffee shop or restaurant and treat yourself to a nice breakfast when you can look at your calendar and plan the coming week.

Block Off Dates. Look at your calendar and choose some dates that you will protect with your life. If you’re married, sit down with your spouse and make this decision together. Make sure to schedule time to do absolutely nothing but relax and enjoy the holiday season. Schedule breaks so the stress of the season doesn’t get to you.

Choose Wisely. Your son or daughter’s school program is your priority over any church event. Make sure to put your family first. Don’t make the mistake of missing a big moment in your child’s life to watch someone else’s child sing in the church pre-school choir. Don’t attend a party at the church while your wife goes to her work Christmas party alone (work parties usually cater better food than church parties anyway). Make the choice to put family first, and that means above church events too.

Say No. We all know that everyone’s favorite staff member is the youth pastor. The whole church loves us. As a result, we get invited to endless parties for Sunday School, small group, and ministry teams. We aren’t a part of these groups, but sometimes people feel obligated to invite all the staff or they simply love the youth pastor because youth pastors are so awesome. It’s okay to say, “Thanks for the invitation but my schedule is so full during the holidays I can’t make all the parties. I have to save time to focus on my family. But thanks again for thinking of me.”

Simplify. This will shock a few of you and it may be hard for some churches to fathom. Several years ago we simplified. We ask our church members to do three things: worship on Sunday, serve somewhere in the church, and be part of a small group. That’s all we do; we don’t do Christmas programs or special holiday events. We all have overloaded schedules already, so we didn’t want to add more to an already stressful time of the year.

I know as Youth Pastor we can’t institute big changes like that church wide, but how can we simplify in our student ministry? In our ministry, we simplified by having our Christmas party as a student ministry at a bowling alley during our regular youth group time. In the past, we’ve had many guests attend that would never come if we had held a Saturday night Christmas event at our church.

How can you simplify this holiday season? If everything is in place for this year start thinking towards 2018.

I hope during the holiday season your find time to rest, relax and remember and think about Christ’s birth and God’s great gift to this world. Merry Christmas, everyone!

About the Author

Andy Lawrenson

Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member.  Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about…  Read More