One of the articles I'm linking to today on twitter discusses the importance of a pastor protecting family time during the Christmas season. It's an important post, and I hope you'll read it, because it can be a challenge for a pastor to spend needed time with family during the holidays, and especially Christmas.
I came across the article today just a few hours after returning home from a visit with my son and his family in Pennsylvania. My wife and I went there to celebrate Christmas with them. When one has children living in different parts of the country one has the opportunity to celebrate Christmas several times during the month of December! It's always too short when we visit, but we had a great time sharing stories and gifts. But, for some pastors the Christmas season can be a frustrating time for both the pastor and the family.
Most churches have several special events planned during the Advent season, and many of them, if not all, expect pastoral participation or at least attendance. Between small group parties, Christmas programs, Christmas Eve services, practices, and a myriad of other special events a pastor can find it difficult to be home creating the special memories he or she wants to make with their own family.
Pastoring a small church throughout my pastoral ministry I was not as involved in special programs as many pastors I know. Our church did not have a Christmas Eve service, and, frankly, I would have resisted one if anyone had brought it up. I know that this can be a special time in a church, but I also know that Christmas Eve was already a busy, and special, time in both my wife's and my family. We were already stretched thin going to her family's Christmas Eve get-together early and then rushing to my family's gathering. We never spent enough time at either to satisfy either family! I can't imagine what would have happened if we had a church service that evening as well.
When our children got older, those extended family gatherings were replaced with our own gathering. Again, those became times when we created some wonderful Christmas memories. Now that our children are even older and living in different parts of the country we need several days in December just to celebrate Christmas with them and our grandchildren. If we had church responsibilities for various Christmas activities it would really complicate things.
Church leaders need to look into the amount of time demands that are placed on their pastors and/or staff during the Christmas season and make sure that it doesn't create problems with their families. Pastors need to protect time with their families. That may mean that you can't make every Sunday school class Christmas party or it may require you to cut back on some other pastoral activities. Some of the richest family memories we have are centered around things we did as a family during the Christmas season. There will come a time when such memories will become very important to you and your family. Make sure you take the time to make them.