Most church leaders I know sprint through life. They are very busy and are responsible for so much more than their job description describes. Because of this, we often forget how important it is to show honor to those who are in our lives. More so during the Christmas season than any other time, those who sacrifice so much to help us accomplish our ministry goals anticipate recognition. Might I suggest four mistakes that we often make?
1. Senior pastors forgetting to do something special and personal for the staff members under their direction.
While serving on church staff under the leadership of Pastor Brad Johnson, each year, he hosted the entire staff team at his home and honored each of us with a token of appreciation. This experience meant more than he could ever know. There was no big proclamation or some touchy feely moments leading us to deep conversation. In fact, that would’ve taken away from the experience. All of us and our spouses simply shared a meal, exchanged Dirty Santa gifts, followed by his thanking us for our service. Being invited into his home to laugh and be together without discussing our work made us all feel special and appreciated.
2. Staff members forgetting to do something for the key volunteers that work alongside them.
Non-staff people work hard over and above their responsibilities at work and home. To honor them at Christmas at your home for a meal and some time of reflection will endear them to you the rest of the year.
3. Being available 24/7.
Many people are wrestling with difficult emotions during the Christmas season. And while pastors love their church members deeply, leaving your own family to allow someone to cry on your shoulder announces to your family that others are more important to you than your own spouse and children. I assure you, unless someone is talking suicide, they can set up an appointment the next day or next week and still receive the care and love they need from you.
4. Coming back from vacation because someone believes there is an emergency that demands your attention…immediately.
Sometimes, pastors receive calls while celebrating Christmas from those they lead telling them of someone in the church that needs the pastor “right now.” The insinuation is that the pastor should rush home no matter where they are because a church member is struggling or there is a difficult situation that has arisen. A phone call to that individual will suffice in the moment. Call them, let them know how much you love and care for them, tell them to set up an appointment for, “the first day I’m back in the office and available.” By doing this, you show your family they are a priority, and you relieve the tensions of the struggling individual. You have still responded to the request of the individual who made the initial contact with you and have spoken very loudly to your family concerning how much you value them and your time with them.