The most blessed period for pastors is usually the two weeks or so just after the last Christmas program has been completed at church and the arrival of New Years.
Think of it. Your church members are out of town, there are no committee meetings, nothing is on your calendar. You are free.
Now, if you have small children, chances are your spouse has plans that involve lengthy driving to see grandparents. No way out of it; you have to go.
However, the good news is the kids will grow up quickly and you’ll be staying at home over the holidays.
What that time comes, I have some suggestions on how to make the most of the down-period between the last of the Christmas events at church and the start of the New Year.
First, do not schedule anything. Leave the calendar blank.
This is a great time for relaxing and sleeping in, then reading things you’ve wanted to get to but haven’t had the time, and thinking. Especially thinking.
There’s a novel by your bedside you’ve wanted to open. This is the time.
I suggest you go to the office.
If you stay at home, you’ll find a host of jobs to do. Or your wife will find them for you.
If you go down to the church office–and I’m assuming you’ll be the only person in the building–the peace and quiet will overwhelm you with joy. This is the sweetest time you will ever spend in your office.
Quieten the urge inside you to take on some huge project.
Type A personalities do not suddenly go away when you are alone and no one is making demands on you. We become our own worst enemies and start putting burdens and expectations on ourselves.
Fight that urge.
Ask the Father.
This is a great time for praying. And by that I mean get-on-your-knees and talk-out-loud to the Father. Pray and be quiet. Read the Scriptures a little, then pray some more and then be quiet.
The best part of this week will be the fellowship with the Father.
If it becomes for you what it has been for me, you will find yourself with sermon ideas and illustrations for future messages. You’ll think of someone who would be ideal to bring to your church to speak to your people. You’ll think of people you are missing and want to phone, of people who are hurting and need a call.
In short, you will be hearing from the Father in ways you are usually too busy for.
Write a one page letter to your people telling them the most memorable things to occur over the past year.
My friend Don Davidson, who pastors Alexandria Virginia’s First Baptist Church, writes the best of these. He looks back over his year’s calendar and tells the congregation of special services he remembers, of blessed solos or choir specials that linger with him, of visitors to the church who made lasting impressions, of accomplishments within the congregation, of the finest challenges and most inspiring moments. (Here’s the link to his latest journal entry: http://www.fbcalexandria.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=123001&articleId=18246)
What makes Don’s journal entry unique is he will also put in his report a great movie he and wife Audrey saw, or a Broadway play, a baseball game, or some celebrity they met who made a permanent impression on him. Why, he has even mentioned the fact that I visited his home and how special our friendship is. You don’t forget such an honorable mention!
Mostly, enjoy the week.
The new year will be upon you before you know it. With it will come a new round of business meetings and committee assignments and church challenges. The next year will not be without its problems and conflicts. They are part of life in this fallen world while we are in these mortal bodies.
That’s why you have to grab for the times of quiet and peace and renewal when you can find them.
Enjoy yourself. Laugh a lot. See a movie or two. Read a book. Visit with a good friend.
It’s a great life, isn’t it, being a minister of the Lord’s people!