How Fruitcake Can Help Your Spouse Survive Your Christmas Ministry Schedule
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the busiest. Helping your spouse survive your ministry schedule can keep the season bright while also keeping you off the naughty list. Check out some of our most effective Christmas survival skills:
- The Keepsake/Fruitcake Principle. Juggling a holiday schedule can be overwhelming. The mistake most of us make is to treat everything we’re juggling with the same attention and care. When working to prioritize your Christmas schedule, ask yourself if a task is a keepsake or fruitcake task.
- Keepsake tasks are to be handled tenderly. These are the items we juggle that cannot be dropped. Think of them as the most cherished ornaments on your tree (the ornament from your honeymoon, baby’s first Christmas, the 1998 Princess Leia Hallmark Keepsake ornament, etc.).
- Fruitcake tasks do not require the same level of care. These are items that are part of the juggling act, but you can risk dropping one or two of these because a fruitcake will bounce. Think of these tasks as the ornament you won at the last youth group gift exchange part (the farting Santa, the yodeling Christmas pickle, the Lederhosen Unicorn ornament, etc.).
Treating every event on your Christmas calendar as keepsake can lead to burn out for you and your family. Everything can seem like a great idea at first glance (especially for those of us who share an affinity for elf culture), but everything is not possible. Identifying the keepsakes and fruitcakes on your calendar can save Christmas for the busy ministry family.
- Use Your Vacation Days. Tasha’s job does not offer paid vacation days, but Tim’s does. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a system that includes vacation days in your salary package, USE THEM! You may not be able to use many of them in December, but make sure you use them throughout the year to spend quality time with your family. Being intentional with your family time during the no-so-busy times of the year makes it easier on a family to make the necessary sacrifices during the busy seasons.
- Do Stuff Together. You will likely have lots of responsibilities throughout the Christmas season. Whenever possible, bring your family with you. Picking up supplies from Sam’s Club? Bring your family! Staying late to answer phones? Make it as much of a date as you can by inviting your spouse to sit with you. Showing up early to set-up for a special Christmas gathering? Grab your early-bird kiddo, pick up a biscuit on the way, and turn it into quality time.
- Keep Your Focus on Jesus. The birth of Emmanuel changed everything. The prophecies that promised peace were not window dressing, they were core to the message of God’s restoration of all things. In the same way that we must receive God’s gift of grace for salvation, we must trust him enough to live in his presence to experience his peace. For most of us who are church leaders, the sacrifices we make to help others experience Christmas can bring out the Grinch in the best of us. But if we’re willing to resist saying, “Bah! Humbug!” and instead choose to sing loud for all to hear, our families genuinely can enjoy the presence of Christ and our community – even in December.
How do you balance your Christmas busyness?
2 thoughts on “Help Your Spouse Survive Your Christmas Ministry Schedule”
I like a lot of this concept; I think the “fruitcake/keepsake principle” is a great way to think about all the juggling that ministry requires. I think it’s great to talk about actually using vacation days; I think people in ministry sometimes feel guilty doing so because there are always people that need serving…sometimes we forget however that those people who need serving include our families, our primary vocation.
When it comes to “do stuff together,” while a great idea, I think it’s also important to mention that this will not be every spouse’s cup of tea, and that it’s important that one’s spouse does not feel like they are just being included as part of the package instead of meeting their need for, say, individual or more focused quality time with their spouse, if that is their love language. I have seen several spouses who are very supportive of their counterparts in ministry, but find their personalities to be different and do not thrive on being dragged along to another ministry event over and over. So be selective of the events you bring your spouse to; take care that he/she does not become a “carry on” to events you have to attend!
Thanks for a thought provoking article!
Great thoughts Sarah. One of my wisest people in my life (my wife!) shared a pearl of wisdom that rings true in my life: “If we don’t love our kids well, they won’t love Jesus well.” We fail all the time, but we strive to make that true in our schedules throughout the year. Christmas is a challenging time schedule-wise, but it’s possible to make sure our families feel special.
And I appreciate your comments about “do stuff together” — you’re spot on. If you’re dragging your spouse anywhere, it’s probably not a good things. Blurring that line for church stuff might be even worse than leaving them at home.
Thanks for reading and commenting!