Pep Talk

Greetings bloggers!
I hope everyone is enjoying the Thanksgiving hangover that is Black Friday. If you were brave enough to hit the stores today, my hat is off to you! If you are like my sister, and had to work on a day like this, you are a hero! I still have not quite figured out what would possess a person to be up at 3 am to find any kind of "deal." Personally, I did some shopping on Old Navy dot com, and came away with some pretty good bargains. And all while sleeping in for the morning!

But I want to talk to those of us who find ourselves doing ministry. Consider this your pep talk.

This is it my brothers and sisters! This weekend represents the last moments of sanity you or I are going to possess until Christmas. You know it. I know it. It's a reality, and it stems through all kind of church work, not just youth ministry.

If you're the pastor, or if you find yourself preparing sermons for the coming Advent season, you're in trouble. Everybody has such high expectations for the Advent/Christmas season, and you better not let them down. Or at least that's what it feels like sometimes, right? You feel like you have to come up with something that's bigger and better than last year (while trying not to remind yourself that your congregation can't remember what you preached about last week, let alone what you preached on last Advent). And so you find yourself either locked in your office twitching in the fetal position or attempting to maintain some dignity while doing the same thing in a public coffee shop.

Or maybe you're in the Christian Education department. These little ones absolutely lose their minds around Advent time. Maybe it's the promise of presents to come. Maybe it's the ridiculous quantities of sugar they're consuming on a daily basis. Maybe it's the fact that mom and dad have a million Christmas parties to attend, and so every night they get to order pizza and harass the baby sitter. Either way, they're yours now, and that hour seems to tick by way slower for the next couple of weeks. You are tempted beyond all temptations to throw a Veggie Tales marathon, and take a little personal time. Don't do it. You'll end up hating them while they ask you a million questions through the film and wind up telling them that (spoiler alert) Santa doesn't exist just to spite them. I've seen it happen people. You do not want those phone calls.

Or (on a more serious note) perhaps you find yourself in pastoral care. My good friend Tammy assures me that while there is no physical or statistical data on hand just yet, it is true that the church will field more care calls during the holiday season (not meant as a cop out, just trying to find a way to cover Thanksgiving too) than you will the rest of the year. This is difficult. People will tie these memories to the holidays for the rest of their lives. Plus you will be run ragged. You will be from hospital to hospital, hospice to nursery, home visit to home visit.

Youth ministers, you have all of these things, but you will do them for 7-12 graders.

My point is this: we know it's coming. We know it's just around the bend. But we also know that we serve a God who will never throw anything at us that we cannot handle. If you're anything like me, you've taken a couple of days off here around Thanksgiving, and you'll probably be a celebrator of National Associate Pastor's Weekend (the service after Christmas). Take these times to make sure you're ready to do God's work in the world. Remind yourself that his grace is enough to cover you through this season, so if you don't get to everything and you don't perform as well as you'd like to, his love for you is unshakeable. Take some time to pray for the people who are going to need to hear an encouraging word from you, and pray that you can be attentive to God's Spirit and distribute it appropriately in their lives. And most of all, make sure to spend some time with your family and assure them that they are your first priority. It's easy for them to get lost in the hustle and bustle of what comes next, don't let that happen!

There's your pep talk team! Now go out and get em!