Five ways for pastors to enjoy the rest of the year

The pressure is on this next week to have a wonderful Fourth Sunday of Advent and a fabulous Christmas Eve service. You may feel like you are hanging on by your fingernails until Christmas Eve. Here are five ways to enjoy the rest of the year – three for between now and Christmas Eve and two for after Christmas.

  1. In the next week, work a little less hard than you usually do the week before Christmas. Ten percent, five percent or even one percent less. My husband says to me, “If you want to be happier, just lower your standards.” Occasionally I can actually take his advice, and it always helps. Let yourself do something less than excellent. Chances are your 90% is very good indeed. And stop every day for a few moments and breathe deeply.
  1. Receive the gifts of others. Take time to appreciate every gift you get in the next week. The tins of cookies. The book you may or may not want to read. The cash bonus. Savor each one, and the people who give them to you.
  1. Celebrate your work and the work of others. After the Christmas Eve service, stop for a moment. Rather than rushing to a feeling of relief that it’s over, take a few minutes to say thank you to everyone. Then sit down for at least one minute and appreciate your own work and the experience you helped create for everyone, including those who only come to worship once a year. Thank yourself for your hard work (even if you took my advice in #1).

Then, after Christmas:

  1. Take some time to review 2015. You can do this in less than fifteen minutes. Take five minutes and write own what went right: what you accomplished, what you learned, what you enjoyed. Then take no more than five minutes and write down some of the challenges you faced. Then take another five minutes to focus on what else went right for you this year.
  1. Celebrate all you have achieved, personally and professionally. Perhaps you could give yourself a little reward. If it was a hard year, celebrate that you survived it. It’s so easy to jump to regret or self-reproach for what we didn’t do, or the ways we failed. Or, we quickly move on the next obligation or project. Take time to savor the blessings of the year.

Here’s another post on how to survive Advent.

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