From the moment I stepped through the door of “ministry” my view on the “holidays” changed. Thanksgiving became navigating phone calls of both those wanting to drop off an extra Turkey, mixed with getting them to the families who needed them. Christmas became about a sprint to take care of others. There were children in the ministry who needed toys, families who needed a meal, the hurting who needed an extra dose of compassion and love.
I never realized I could so easily lose sight of Christ in a time of year when I talked about Him so much. One year when my own children were toddlers, I confess that I drove around on Christmas Eve searching for a tree with my husband all while sobbing about how I had been so busy making sure everyone else in need had a wonderful Christmas my own kids got lost in the shuffle.
There it is. From Thanksgiving through New Years the tension lies in the giving. When you enter this “job” called “ministry” it feels less like a choice and more like a requirement. Honestly? Resentment can easily set in. “Why do we HAVE to do so much for others?” we ask while smiling and telling the world how much we love taking care of everyone.
What can we do to take it back if this is the pace set before us?
Seek Christ Before, During & After the “Holidays.”
No brainer right? Still I think we can forget this time of year should be an extension of an everyday relationship. He doesn’t get pushed aside when we have purposed to be with him on the “non” holidays. These times are merely steps along our journey with Him.
Remember WHY we give:
This time of year is often when the distress of others bubbles to the surface and it can come out in ugly ways. “I thought you were a Christian,” has been said to me on more than one occasion when I didn’t “give” in the way someone in my ministry desired. If I think this is about me or them, then I can get really ticked off at this attitude. Instead, I have to remember I give because of the gift Christ is. I give because Jesus gave his life extravagantly. I give because He loved me first.
Find some things in this season that bring you joy. Make some choices that help you remember why this is a great time of year. Do you fry your turkey? Do you have an Advent devotional? Are you a Christmas Carol fanatic? What works for YOU and YOUR family to take this back and remember the Lord in the midst of it all?
10 Minutes a Day
Find 10 minutes everyday to stop and slow down purposely and be quiet. Breathe deep and take a few moments to sit and only think only about HIM. Tell him why you are always thankful for everything He is.
Make Time For Those You Love
We can get so busy serving others we do forget those closest to us. Our eye can be to “just get through this time.” Make 5 minutes for those you want to embrace this season. Don’t let them be “one more thing to do” on your list.
Maybe the sprint is different for you. However, no one expects you to implode under the weight of what “Has” to be done. The Lord just wants us to be His. We aren’t the ones asked to save anyone. Most of all simply remember this isn’t the only time of year Jesus shows up.
What do you do to take this time back?
It’s that “outreach” time of year again. Perhaps it’s because many really believe “Santa is Watching.” We just finished up some form of Harvest Party or Trunk or Treat for Halloween. Now we will turn to food baskets and Christmas gifts for the “less fortunate.”
Now before you accuse me of being a “Scrooge,” I am not against helping the Body of Christ reach the least, the lost and the lonely, especially during the “holidays.” I certainly am not against those in need receiving a special touch this time of year. Anyone who knows me will tell you I feel like we all need to feel a little “spoiled” every once in awhile. In other words, let’s give extravagantly. Where I get hung up is on the approach.
I hate “Outreach,” because that is how we see it- as an event. We mark it on our calendar and a couple of times of year we tell the world what we accomplished. We gave out X number of plates of food or reached X number of shut ins or saw X number of shining happy faces get gifts.
We love to quote Matthew 25:35 & 36 when the Lord says this, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” He is talking about a lifestyle, not an occasion.
As we enter this season I wonder if we can see it as an extension of who we are anyway. This is a great opportunity to meet a hurting and aching world that would love a little “Holiday Cheer.”
As we look forward to the “Season of Giving,” I just wonder if we can approach it differently by asking ourself these questions?
If I Get NOTHING Out of This Would I Do It Anyway?
There is a way of serving that is really more for us. We say that it is about “the Lord.” However, take a look at your heart. If you don’t get even a “Thank You,” “no satisfaction,” nothing at all,” would you still serve? We want the answer to be “YES,” but is it really?
Do I Give or Remove Dignity From Those I Serve?
There can be an attitude of “you need this,” sometimes when we give. In what you are doing, does it allow the person to feel empowered? If you give something are you looking down on the person as “lesser, even if not intentionally?
Is This An Extension Of Who I Am?
It can be easy to point to those “events” as the time to get out and “Do Something.” As long as we have the attitude that we can “show up” and then “go home,” our selfishness stays intact. We can’t MAKE anyone be selfless, but we can show service is often about seeing the hungry, thirsty & lonely DAILY.
So go for it! Serve meals on Thanksgiving and wrap an extra present for a child whose parent is in prison this Christmas. Show a little extra love and then on January 2nd keep it up!
Thanks for loving students,
Thanksgiving is a time of the year when we gather with our families and stuff ourselves. Some of us stuff ourselves with stuff we need; like love, thankfulness and foods like lentil beans and soup finding ourselves feeling full of joy, love and warmth.
Others stuff themselves with things they think need. Things like agreeableness, conformity, Cowboys games, and foods like ham and turkey; finding themselves feeling great in the moment but end up watching someone elseâ€™s game and not playing the one that was truly meant for them.
Then there are others that will stuff themselves with all the stuff they know they shouldnâ€™t be like criticism, animosity and nothing but pie; coconut crÃ¨me pie, pumpkin pie and tons of whip cream! Finding themselves feeling stuffed, unbearable and knocked out on the couch before the game even begins.
This Thanksgiving, how will you stuff yourself?
Ashley Fordinal is the Childrenâ€™s Church volunteer at Family Life Church in Sulphur Springs, TX.
My friends at ym360 have a great Thanksgiving resource for you. Itâ€™s a Thanksgiving page featuring three Thanksgiving lessons and a handful of Thanksgiving games. The best part? Theyâ€™re all FREE! If youâ€™re interested in downloading one or all of the Thanksgiving resources from ym360, simply head on over toÂ YM360 and as always if you have any questions or problems with the download, the ym360 team is standing by to help out.
Weekend Teaching Series: Thankfulness (Thanksgiving 1-off)
Sermon in a Sentence: Fix our eyes on Jesus – and be thankful for everything.
Service Length: 62 minutes
Message: this weekend I thought it might be fun to change up the format and let you SEE part of the weekend service instead of just hearing about it. Here are two clips of Jessica teaching over Thanksgiving weekend in HSM:
Favorite Moment: Jessica is a great speaker – she doesn’t get to speak too often in HSM and that needs to change!
Up next: STORIES (1-off)
One of the simplest videos we’ve made in Saddleback’s HSM … but it made me laugh at every service this weekend! A little non-bumper bumper video for the Thanksgiving 1-off services.