Written by Matt Larkin:
Christmas can be an insanely busy time. Between Christmas parties, Advent readings, and the obligatory youth Christmas program, youth workers are spread pretty thin. None more so than the youth leader in a small church because you’re often actually the one who’s charged with planning and executing all of those different things! And unfortunately, if you’re anything like me, that level of busyness can very quickly suck the joy right out of the Christmas season.
It’s hard. It really is hard juggling everything that comes with being a small church youth worker around Christmas time. Despite the fact that all of these activities are meant to draw people toward Jesus, they often do the opposite, at least for the one who’s charged with making it all happen. When you’ve got a youth Christmas program to direct, a series of Advent readings to deal out, a youth Christmas party to plan, AND your regular youth ministry activities to worry about, it can be very hard to focus back on Jesus. And Jesus, the coming of Emmanuel, God with us, IS supposed to be our focus during this season… right?
TAKE TIME TO REFLECT
Now I recognize that there’s no easy fix for this problem. If there was an easy fix, it would probably be to drop some things. But, I realize that it’s not always possible, especially during this time of the year. To do so, in many churches, may mean that you are fighting against decades of tradition. So, to do so, may lead to a very difficult and contentious January board meeting (or worse).
So, what I say to you instead is to make sure that no matter how many different things you may be responsible for this Christmas season, take time to reflect. Remember the words of the biblical authors and remember what it is they are saying to us.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, ESV)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:7, ESV)
As you remember these words, take the time to reflect on the immensity of what this season actually means. This season is meant to celebrate the coming of he who had been prophesied about centuries before. It is meant to celebrate the coming of the word, Emmanuel, God with us.
MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR STUDENTS ARE FOCUSED ON JESUS
As you reflect on these things, take time to make sure that you AND your students are focused on the immensity of all of this. Take time to make sure that you AND your students are focused on Jesus. Because, just as you’re busy, so your students. There’s a good chance they’re involved with a lot of what you’re involved with, and there’s also a chance they’re involved with plenty of other things as well.
So, not only do you need to maintain your focus as a leader, but it’s equally important that you help to refocus the students who God has entrusted to your care. Make sure that both you AND your students have opportunities, through all of the busyness, to reflect on the immensity of what this season means. Because the immensity of what happened 2,000 years ago, in a manger in Bethlehem, is a major key to unlocking the immensity of God’s love.