Don’t Miss God’s Greatest Gift

It’s possible to be so busy in ministry that you don’t receive ministry. 

That’s a great risk for any leader in the local church.

It’s good to give, but if your tank becomes empty, you have nothing left to pour out. And it’s in the Christmas season that this reality becomes highly prevalent for church leaders.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, right? Then why so much stress? That’s an old question with lots of answers, but few solutions.

The main solution is simple, but not always easy to do … slow down, at least a little.

Enjoy your family, play a little. I know you are “on” for the holidays, but you can find some time to protect. Your Christmas services are over now and it’s time to chill a bit, rest and if you are fortunate enough to have this week off, truly get some down time!

My “kids” are in their early thirties now, and they still love Christmas like when they were little. I love Christmas too, and I’m excited that my son flew in to be with us from his SoCal place in LA! We enjoy our family traditions, grandchildren, favorite foods, (Patti’s famous enchiladas for Christmas dinner,) games or movies, and opening gifts around the tree on Christmas morning.

But I would also admit that it’s still possible to miss the greatest gift if I’m not intentional. Don’t let Christmas become professional.

As leaders, we invest incredible amounts of effort and energy so that others may receive the greatest gift. This investment can cause the spirit of Christmas to become more professional than personal.

Don’t miss the greatest gift:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:16-17

Christmas is personal. 

3 Reflections for Leaders on the Run:

1) Love is always personal.

When I think about my family and how much I love them, it keeps me grounded about how love must be translated in my life and in the local church. God’s love is personal, individual, and His Son made it sacrificial.

God reaches for the one – at a time. It’s personal. We want to reach the many, and the passion behind that is good, but if we’re not careful, we can lose the personal touch and then we’ve lost God’s heart.

For you to communicate God’s love authentically, it’s important to be deeply in touch with His love yourself on an intimate level. That means it’s not enough to understand love theologically; you have to experience it personally.

What does that look like for you?

One of the (new) ways for me is when my 2 ½ year old granddaughter Anza runs into my arms, with an exuberant “Papa, let’s play!” Her love is pure, precious and reminds me of the intimacy of God’s love. It’s personal.

2) Love fuels and refreshes your soul.

Love cannot be experienced at high speed. Slowing down is required. A few years ago, God spoke plainly to me in a prayer time. I was in a season of rushing, praying quick and blasting off for my day. He said, “It’s OK if you leave now, but if you want more of me, I cannot be rushed.”

I’ve thought a lot about that moment, and that truth translates to every close friendship and family relationship as well. Love simply can’t be rushed, and when you take the time love requires, your soul is deeply fueled and refreshed. Peace increases and that low-grade anxiety diminishes.

I get why we as leaders run fast, there is so much to do. But I encourage you to slow down, at least long enough to get your tank refueled.

NOTE: That moment with God resulted in me writing a devotional specifically for leaders. I believe it would be an encouragement you. Leadership Alone Isn’t Enough.

3) Love teaches you how to receive.

The majority of leaders I know are good at giving but not at receiving. At risk of sounding contradictory, it’s difficult to give from the heart unless you can receive freely at a heart level.

Most kids quickly learn to receive love from their parents. Then as they mature, they can mirror that experience by giving love to others.

As Christians, we must first receive God’s love, before we truly can give God’s love to others.

I understand why you might have your guard up, but you must let it down to allow love in.

One of the ways I receive God’s kindness and love is when people pray for me and my family. It’s truly one of the greatest gifts I can ever receive. Yet, sometimes I’m hesitant to ask. As a leader I think, I’m the one who is supposed to pray for others. That sounds foolish, I know, but I’ll bet you know what I mean.

In this Christmas season, soak in the love that others give you. It’s part of God’s greatest gift; it’s the human expression of God’s love.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Miss God’s Greatest Gift”

  1. Dan,
    One of the greatest reasons that you speak so deeply to so many, is that you are wise, yet GROUNDED. Your wisdom and good counsel never becomes “a voice from on high”, but rather the calm soft advice of a wise friend. You never get so caught up in the “Ministry” that you forget the importance of the health of the Minister.

    Such a thing is virtually unheard of in these times. Instead. so much pressure is put on performance and success, that the leader can become chewed up in the pursuit of a lofty goal. In the end, nothing is gained and much is lost. Your loving and grounded voice helps prevent that catastrophe.

    Truly, I and so many others are deeply in debt to you.

    ~Matthew Pless

  2. Matthew!
    Always kind and most encouraging! I’m blessed to add even a morsel of value to you or anyone. You are in my prayers, and so grateful for you!

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