My Annual Christmas Card to Church Leaders

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Originally posted December 17, 2010

Every year around this time I post a special “Leadership Christmas Card” to church leaders. Today’s post continues that tradition.

It stems from my years as an executive pastor of a large church. And it addresses a very practical issue for any church leader who faces the tension of balancing the pull of family responsibilities along with a demanding church schedule at Christmastime.

If you find yourself facing that annual tug-of-war, I trust this is of some help for you.

If you serve on the staff of a church with multiple Christmas Eve services, you may already feel the tension mounting.

You know that this is one of the highest-impact seasons on the church calendar, and yet if you have school-aged children (or younger) no season of the year demands more of your family’s attention.

It’s the classic Christmas tug-o-war.

In my early days as executive pastor in a large church, with six Christmas Eve services, I felt this tension mount every year at this time.

On the one hand, since Christmas Eve was like our church’s ‘Super Bowl’, I felt I needed to lead by example by being there for each service.

On the other hand, we had family Christmas traditions to uphold, and I didn’t want to let down my wife and children.

By my third year, however, I had learned that it really is possible to be fully engaged in multiple Christmas Eve services, and still be fully present with my family. And if you find yourself in the same stage of life, this can be true for you too.

The key, I learned, is to fully engage your family in your church’s Christmas Eve celebrations. Rather than looking at our Christmas Eve services as something that was taking me away from my family, all five of us became volunteer maniacs at Christmas, and it became an irreplaceable part of our family Christmas traditions.

Specifically we learned four vital ingredients to achieving this:

  • Getting your children excited about the genuine fun of serving in the Christmas Eve services.
  • Guiding them into volunteer roles that interest them and suit them.
  • Reconnecting as a family during breaks between services.
  • Throwing yourselves a family party when the last service is over.

Getting this right is of utmost importance for a leader in the local church. And I trust that this year you will indeed find a way to honor your roles both as a parent as well as your role as a church leader.

Because when you get this right you will not only survive the season, but indeed you will find that you will thrive in each of these roles.

How do you manage this tension?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.

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