Did Ministry Overload Steal Your Holiday Joy?

My mind started reeling the minute I sank down for Sunday morning worship. A mental list begged for my attention during the Advent Scripture reading. Rather than being captivated with the coming of Immanuel, my thoughts ticked through a catalog of ministry tasks:

Holiday decorations fluffed and hung, Operation Christmas Child donation boxes collected and distributed, volunteer gifts wrapped, Visitor Center stocked and Pinterest-worthy for the highest attendance of the year, extra nursery helpers recruited for Christmas Eve, program finalized for the women’s Simply Still event. What have I forgotten?

The ministry details were overwhelming, and there was only one me. Oh God, forgive me for going through the outward motions of worshiping the Holy One for whom I am running around.

When the calendar rolls around to December, it doesn’t exactly feel like “the most wonderful time of the year” for ministry leaders. Not only does the church need sprucing up to put on its best holiday sparkle, there are countless added demands on the home front—fun stuff you don’t want to miss like yuletide parties, holiday baking, annual Christmas letters, gift exchanges, tree trimming, and on and on.

If you feel it’s nearly impossible to worship Christ our King during the four Sundays leading up to December 25, I share your struggle. If I could, I’d gift wrap a three-step formula to erase the tension that mounts between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and hand it to you next November before the holidays roll around.

Instead, as we approach the end of this holiday season, I offer you this—a permission slip to sit before the Lord.

When Ministry Overwhelms, Sit

A leader we find in Scripture had vast ministry responsibilities and plans. King David was tough as steel yet tender in heart. He failed on many fronts by committing abhorrent sins against the Lord and against the people he was called to lead. Despite his glaring flaws, there is one thing David got right—worship.

During a peaceful period in Israel’s history, David dreamed of building a temple worthy of the Lord. He determined in his heart that God deserved better housing than a pack-’n-go tabernacle. The problem with David’s noble plan was that the Architect of the universe had already created His superior blueprint. The prophet Nathan reveals the hidden truth: instead of David building a house for God, the great I AM was building the house of David for a King whose kingdom will never end.

What did David do next after hearing this mind-boggling promise? He went into the tabernacle,“sat in the LORD’s presence, and said, ‘Who am I, Lord GOD, and what is my house that you have brought me this far?’”(2 Sam. 7:18, emphasis mine).

Overwhelmed by God

David wasn’t overwhelmed by ministry (like I can so easily become). He was overwhelmed by the greatness of God. I believe David would say to us, “Be overcome that God would show His favor by using you in ministry at all.” Let’s pause to absorb the weight of such words.

Isn’t it astounding to be used by God to influence people’s lives? If we’re truthful, we know there’s nothing special about us except for the fact that God chose and appointed us to serve Him. If our days of ministry cease today, we can still say with David, “Who am I to have received such an honor?”

The next eleven verses in 2 Samuel 7 (vv. 18–29) reflect David’s pure heart of worship and grateful praise. I commend them for your full meditation and personal worship, but here’s a sample:

“This is why you are great, Lord GOD. There is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, as all we have heard confirms.” (2 Sam. 7:22).

Jesus builds our hearts into His temple when we come to Him in worship. As we sit in His presence, our mistaken plans and faulty dreams are course corrected, weariness is refreshed with strength, and joyful service to Him is restored. Leaders need undistracted worship—not just during the holidays but every week of the year because Christ, our Cornerstone, is building His Church and you are called to be His worker.

As you come to him, a living stone—rejected by people but chosen and honored by God—you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

           See, I lay a stone in Zion,
           a chosen and honored cornerstone,
           and the one who believes in him
           will never be put to shame. (1 Peter 2:4–6)

Let’s Make a Pact

For what remains of this holy season (Remember, Epiphany isn’t until January 6, so we still have time!), when we welcome the Christ child, let’s make a pact to remind each other of the wonder . . .

The King of Kings left the glories of heaven to become our righteousness.

The Word became flesh to dwell with us and to redeem us.

The One and Only came down to reconcile us through peace with God forever.

Let’s remember the who behind the what we do. Permit the incarnation to fill your mind and heart with lasting hope that leads to soulful worship.

If your shoulders are still too burdened with work and worry to lift your hands in worship, listen to what Jesus teaches us when we’re overloaded in ministry:

“Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:24–26).

  • Ministry that is worthy of Jesus is a call to die.
  • Ministry that is worthy of Jesus is following Him to hard places.
  • Ministry that is worthy of Jesus will be honored by the Father.

When the Master says, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we’ll forget any notion of ministry overload. We will worship King Jesus without another competing thought to interrupt our unceasing songs of praise. “Hallelujah! Because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns!” (Rev.19:6).

About the Author

Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett

Leslie Bennett served as a Director of Women’s Ministries for a dozen years prior to joining Revive Our Hearts in Women’s Ministry Initiatives. She is the editor of two ebooks: Women’s Ministry Leader Survival Guide and 10 Truths to Set … read more …

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