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Pastor, don’t brag about how busy you are this Christmas

When it comes to stress in Christian ministry, Christmas is the time of year it hits the most. But there are two reasons why we shouldn’t brag about it.

I was prompted to write this post by two colleagues who tweeted that for many pastors, stress in Christian ministry, particularly at Christmas appeared to be a badge of honour for some. One suggested that acting as if everything depends on us is, in fact, a form of idolatry. For those two reasons alone, I think we should stop bragging about how busy we are at this time of year.

The Status Symbol of Stress

For many people, being hectic and stressed and feeling overworked and overwhelmed by demands both at work and at home, is seen as a status symbol and a sign of success. It gives us a sense of pride. And we are tempted sometimes, to brag about it and present it as a badge of honour. We tell the world we’re working long, long hours every day of December, without a break until Boxing Day. The problem is that who we become whilst we are so busy is something not to brag about. We can’t function at a high level by working long hours day after day without a break. We end up being grumpy, or we get sick. And we give our families the leftovers after we’ve given most of ourselves to everyone else.

Logging in long hours and then complaining about not having time to ourselves is sinful pride. But working like this, even during the Christmas season is often unproductive and leaves us feeling inadequate. If we’re working this way, then we need to do something about it now. My post from last Christmas, Christmas Stress in Ministry? Stop! might help.

The Idolatry of Stress

The second reason to stop bragging about stress in our Christian ministry, especially at Christmas, is that it suggests our work has become our idol. We have fallen into the trap of worshipping our work rather than worshipping God. In fact, as my colleague suggests, it is worshipping ourselves as the controllers and saviours of the universe, instead of recognising that God is control.

If your ministry is getting the best part of your life this Christmas, and God is getting the leftovers, then you have tipped over into idolatry. If we are truly seeking to serve the Lord in our work, if we want our actions to reflect God’s sovereignty and his values, then our ministry will include rhythms of work and rest, even at Christmas. After all, I’m pretty sure that if I am grumpy and tired, I will not be reflecting Kingdom values to those I am seeking to help!

Our busyness is an indication of what motivates and empowers us. Too often, long hours, no breaks and complaining of having no time are symptoms of being motivated by other people’s approval and to cement our very identity in our work.

Worshipping and Honouring God in our Christmas Work

There is no doubt that Christmas is a busy time for those in Christian ministry. But let’s get the balance right, avoid bragging about how busy we are, and ensure that in all we do and who we are during this season, we are worshipping and honouring God. God bless you!

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2 thoughts on “Pastor, don’t brag about how busy you are this Christmas”

  1. I agree that we should never boast of being stressed due to doing Gods work and yes it is sinful. We should be doing our work without letting the demand show.

    Especially at Christmas as we work to help others.
    As it is in Matthew 6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

    .But as I scan over the page this post is written on I see your picture, with the description below; “Bragging” of your credentials; “Lieutenant” (lowest rank in Army officership), “Commanding Officer” (could have just said Corps officer), “Salvation Army Solicitor” & “UK Lawyer for a few years”.

    If you want to make an attack on pride Lieutenant Westwood-Payne, Commanding Officer, Solicitor, Lawyer, maybe you better go look in the mirror.

    Go get busy (quietly) for the Lord & be blessed.
    From one officer to another 🙂

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