Let’s all say it out loud: The holiday season can be extremely busy. Crazy busy! Is it too busy? Perhaps. During these weeks, we find a new hustle in our step to get it all done – from decorations to gift shopping, visitors to parties. The busyness of the season can be fun and also exhausting, often leaving us a bit depleted. The busyness can also snuff out the importance and the why for all that we are doing. Why are we eager to give gifts to those we love the most? Why are we taking an entire month to prepare to celebrate and open gifts? Why are we scrambling to find that perfect tree or the most festive wreath? My hope is that your answer isn’t, “To keep up with the Joneses.”
Ed Stetzer has started a new series on an important topic, starting with Kyle Idleman:
One of my favorite ways to think about preaching is Phillips Brooks’ well-known definition, “Truth through personality.” According to Brooks, every preacher will—and should—preach God’s Word a little bit differently. It’s His truth through who he made me to be. Though we would never want to overshadow the former with the latter, we recognize that God speaks through the uniqueness of his servants. Pick any prophet, or read through the New Testament letters to the churches and it seems clear that God’s messengers were doing more than impersonally relaying a message. Preaching is not just about what is said, but who is saying it.
Advent signals something new is coming. The dawn of a new and better era. This is really what Christmas is about, isn’t it? It’s the celebration of the coming of a new era. God broke into time and space and entered our world. He is Immanuel, God with us. He broke in the midst of the sin and clamor and the fallenness. He came as a vulnerable baby in a poverty-stricken town to ordinary people, in a time of great political unrest. Advent–Christ’s Advent–means that God sees us in our distress, in our sin-ravaged condition, in all of our helplessness.
I love the Christmas season. I love the music. I love the lights. I love the climax of college football. And I especially love presents (both giving and receiving).
And while I know that Christmas has its share of legitimate, substantive challenges for people, one of the hard parts for me is waiting for Christmas Day. It was true for me as a child, and it’s true for me even now. I’m on my 41st Christmas, and I’d say the odds are 3-to-1 that everyone I’ve given gifts to opens them early because I pester them about it. I don’t wait well.
Really fast disclaimer: I like my boss. A lot. I am really blessed not only to enjoy what I do but also to enjoy serving alongside whom I am accountable to. Work is so much more fun when you enjoy both what you are doing and whom you are serving alongside. I do get asked questions frequently about thriving or even enduring when working for someone you don’t like. This was the subject of a recent Five Leadership Questions podcast where I was a guest. Here are four thoughts I share when people ask me about working for a boss they don’t like.
I’m sitting in the Louisville airport reading a news release about the fall of another high-profile pastor. A week rarely passes without feeling the tremor from another leader’s tumble. Reading the reasons (which include abandonment of community, refusal of accountability, and misplaced identity) reminds me of how often this list appears when high profile pastors are laid low. These conditions then invite a mob of sins to loot the home and set the soul on fire. The following days headlines might read, “Another Pastor, Another 5-Alarm Fire”.
A favorite from the archives:
Christmas traditions are strange animals. I know some people who do things like spend Halloween night getting their Christmas on, decorating up a storm, baking cookies, and putting trees up in almost every room. Some go to special church services on Christmas Eve. Some like to watch specific Christmas specials or movies every year, like Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, or Die Hard.
Bruce Willis taking back Nakatomi Plaza aside, there aren’t a lot of Christmas traditions in the Armstrong house. Up until recently, our church hasn’t had a permanent facility, so we’ve not had Christmas Eve services (at least, not that I can recall). In order to best meet the needs of our extended family, we allow the kids to open gifts on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas day. But there isn’t really a ton beyond that. Except a couple of things.