When Ministry Overload Tramples Your Christmas Joy

Do ministry and family responsibilities have you feeling like the Christmas season represents just more work to get done? Is there any hope of preserving the sense of awe in worship of the Christ child? The answer is a resounding yes! Revive Our Hearts invites you to recapture the childlike trust and wonder of Immanuel with the 31-day Advent devotional, The First Songs of Christmas, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Unwrap the Advent blog for a daily dose of joy—holiday recipes, stories, songs, or DIY projects. Then use the Advent Experience Guide for more ideas to treasure the Savior. We’re giving away five copies of Nancy’s book* at the end of this blog. Tell us your favorite Christmas song or Scripture verse in the comments section, and you’ll be entered to win!

As I sat down for Sunday worship, my mind began to reel . . .

🗹 1. Christmas gifts for the volunteers purchased and wrapped (within budget). Check.

🗹 2. Wreaths and bows for the sanctuary unpacked, fluffed, hung. Check.

🗹 3. Visitor center stocked and Pinterest worthy (highest attendance of the year!). Check.

🗹 4. Extra volunteers recruited for the nursery. Check.

X 5. Details finalized for Women’s Christmas event. Brain overload! NO check.

The ministry details were overwhelming, and there was only one me. My thoughts spiraled through a task list as I went through the outward motions of worshiping the Holy One I was running around for.

When the calendar rolls to December, it doesn’t exactly feel like “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” to 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, wrapping presents, gift exchanges, tree trimming, and on and on.

Dare I say that for leaders it seems almost impossible to worship Christ our King during the four Sundays leading up to December 25? If it feels that way to you, I understand your struggle. Please hear me out, sister. This isn’t a post on how to boost productivity or how to become more Mary-esque and less Martha-driven.

Can we be genuinely honest with one another?

Ministry comes with real responsibility. Family comes with real responsibility. Holidays add more responsibility. All responsibility from the loving hand of God is a sacred privilege. How I wish I could hand over a four-step method to overcome the increasing tension between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, but I’m at a loss. Instead, as we approach the holidays, I offer you this . . . a permission slip to sit before the Lord.

When Ministry Overwhelms, Sit

Another leader in Scripture had great ministry vision and plans. David was a warrior and a songwriter. Tough as steel yet tender-hearted, David failed on many fronts by committing abhorrent sins against the Lord, his family, and even the people he was called to lead. But despite glaring flaws, there’s 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. But the problem with David’s plan is the Architect of the universe had already created His own blueprint. Through the prophet Nathan, David is told that his noble plan was the wrong one. In fact (get this!), instead of David building a house for God, the great I AM is building the house of David for a King whose kingdom will never end.

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

Overwhelmed by God

David wasn’t overwhelmed by ministry (like I can get so easily). He was overwhelmed by the greatness of God. I am confident 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 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:

“You are great, O LORD God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Sam. 7:22).

Jesus is building us as His temple inside our hearts when we come to Him in worship. Our mistaken plans and faulty dreams are course corrected, weariness is refreshed with strength, and joyful service to Him is restored again. 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 men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” . . .

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:4–6, 9).

Let’s Make a Pact

This holy season 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. Let the incarnation fill your heart with lasting hope and lead 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, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. 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 is honored by the Father.

When we hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we’ll forget all about the weariness and hardship of ministry.

I’m reading the Revive Our Hearts 31-day Advent devotional, First Songs of Christmas, and the companion blog to make certain I don’t miss the miracle of our Savior’s birth while I embrace all of my responsibilities. Here on the Leader Connection blog for the entire month of December, we are encouraging you to savor Christ. We’re inviting you to turn off the distractions, to take time to “sit before the Lord,” and to sing, rest, and be satisfied in the Redeemer and Restorer of our souls.

*Win one of five copies of Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s 31-day Advent devotional, The First Songs of Christmas, by telling us your favorite Christmas song or Scripture verse in the comments below. We’d love your help in spreading the word about Nancy’s new book! Share about it using the hashtag #ROHAdvent, and send friends to ReviveOurHearts.com/advent for their copy or gift bundle.

*Offer available only to U.S. and Canadian addresses.

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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 also the content manager of the Revive Our Hearts' Leader Connection blog and editor of two ebooks: Women’s Ministry Leader Survival Guide and 10 Truths to Set Leaders Free.

The Lord captured Leslie’s heart for biblical womanhood and revival at the national True Woman conference in 2008. Since then, she’s been spreading the message of how a woman’s femininity adorns the gospel wherever God sends her. Spend a few moments with Leslie, and you’ll catch her passion for the Word, prayer, revival and discipleship. She and her husband Mac live in the S.C. Lowcountry where she loves drinking sweet tea and encouraging women to treasure Christ above all.

Contact Leslie at LBennett@ReviveOurHearts.com

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