How to Avoid Burnout this Christmas Season
Burnout is REAL, especially for church creatives during two times of year: Christmas and Easter. Somehow the church has morphed these moments to celebrate the mystery of what Christ did for us into a Sunday morning version of a Broadway show. Now, I'm not saying there's no place for creativity, celebration, and–yes–a bit of a show. However, I think in an attempt to draw in our largest audience of unchurched each year, we've cheapened the Gospel, and our creative staff and volunteers have paid the price.
I think in an attempt to draw in our largest audience of unchurched each year, we've cheapened the Gospel, and our creative staff and volunteers have paid the price.
Finding Calm Amidst the Chaos
Doing something different and special for Christmas at your church can be really impactful and even fun to do. But somehow, this experience hasn't always brought the words "special" and "fun" to mind. Instead, I think many of us are left with a sense of impending doom as the Christmas season draws closer and closer. If you've just finished your Christmas service and your first thought is, "Ok let's start the countdown to Easter," I'd challenge you to take a close look at what you're asking of yourselves and your team and whether it really glorifies God.
Glorifing God in what we do isn't about having the biggest impact. I believe it's about reflecting his nature, which certainly can be big and bold at times, but is more often quiet, calm and balanced. Again, I doubt those words are used often in describing what's happening behind the scenes at a Christmas service. Our Father is not a God of chaos. He is a God who values rest, balance and boundaries.
Here's another challenge: If you CAN'T find a way to peace and balance in your church's Christmas experience, then it's time to change the experience.
Allowing God to Speak For Himself
When did we stop allowing the Gospel and goodness of God to be enough? Why are we driven by a need to try and dress up the truth of Christ to make it seem more appealing? I think it's past time for us to place our trust in God to move hearts. Our job is to show up faithfully, with excellence, and allow him to demonstrate his love through us.
My worst moments of burnout in ministry have come when I've been trying to do God's job for him.
My worst moments of burnout in ministry have come when I've been trying to do God's job for him. We have to trust that God is faithful to show up and change hearts. If we don't get the music perfect or a graphic doesn't blow people away, God STILL moves. In fact, I think he has more room to move in our moments of failure. It's in those moments that we have to completely depend on him because we see no alternative. What if we depended on him even when we felt like we had the perfect video or stage lighting?
It's Not a One Man or Woman Show
If you're over production or creative efforts at your church, there can be a tremendous amount of expectation, pressure, responsibility, etc. Leaning on others and working as a team is so important! God doesn't ask us to walk alone, in fact, he encourages us to find community and rely on one another. If you're having a hard time delegating or allowing others to have a key role, I'd encourage you to ask God for help relinquishing control and trusting him with your responsibilities and team members. We're stronger together!
Be Open with Leadership
Maybe you're reading this and wishing your lead pastor or team leader was reading it too... Having open conversations with your leaders is crucial. Explain where you're at and how unrealistic expectations are pushing you to an unhealthy place. I remember having a similar conversation with a leader and realizing that they weren't putting those expectations on me at all. I was putting them on myself!
If leadership isn't receptive and continue to push you too hard, it may be time to pray about stepping away. God doesn't want us to try and push our way through situations that are unhealthy. If you can't be healthy there, then it's probably time to step away.
Christmas is about God showing up in the midst of our mess in a humble way. He didn't make a big show of it. He didn't have to. He invited us into a path of grace, rest and peace.
If we're struggling with pushing ourselves to the brink each Christmas season, we're missing the point. I'm not saying we don't do anything special for Christmas, but everything we do should always be centered around the Gospel and ALWAYS respect the health of our staff and volunteers. Christmas is about God showing up in the midst of our mess in a humble way. He didn't make a big show of it. He didn't have to. He invited us into a path of grace, rest and peace. I think it's time to step into that path with confidence and joy.