Why I Require Our Staff to Work on Christmas Eve

Christmas tree gifts

I’m not a huge rule-maker. I like to operate in freedom and so I try to leader others that way. I’m strict about very few things.

(Can I be completely honest? — I’d rather break a rule than keep one. Certainly I love to write better rules.)

I’m a little different on Christmas Eve.

I’m strict. I write rules. An ole’ controlling leader.

Our ministerial staff works on Christmas Eve.

Period. No excuses.

That’s harsh, isn’t it?

Christmas Eve is a big deal in this church. Always has been. Long before I became pastor.

We now have 3 services to accommodate crowds, but the church has always had one packed service that is live on television. Near 100,000 people in our region watch the show and the past couple years we’ve rebroadcast the show several times on Christmas Day. It’s somewhat of a community event.

But, there’s another reason.

Culturally speaking, Christmas has in many ways become the new Easter. Not theologically of course. You can’t trump the resurrection, but as an opportunity to reach lost people.

They’ll come at Christmas. It’s a culturally acceptable thing to do. A familiar affair. Get dressed up (or not) and gather together to sing familiar Christmas songs. It’s a great family tradition.

And, who can’t love a baby in a manger story? You can attract people at Christmas like no other time of the year.

We would never think of staff missing Easter. It’s an “all hands on deck” kind of day.

So, I make Christmas Eve a priority and require our staff to be here.

(Now, in complete transparency, if there were extenuating circumstances with a staff member we would certainly consider them.)

And, sure, it’s difficult on families to understand. I get that. My family has to sacrifice also. We live 4 hours from our family and we now miss Christmas Eve together.

But, if we had a job as a policeman or at a hospital emergency room, no one would question why we had to work. It comes with the job.

And, in church work, Christmas Eve, if it’s done well, can be a great part of the job. Lives are at stake. It’s a vital work. An “all hands on deck” kind of day.

21 Reasons God May Allow More Than You Can Bear

Man alone

I’ve written some of my most read posts about a myth. A lie. A misquoted and misapplied Bible verse.

As with most lies the enemy uses, it originates from a misapplied truth in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that talks about temptation and how when we are tempted, God always allows us a way to resist that temptation. We can’t be tempted beyond what He’s equipped us to bear. (But, even that is misapplied if it’s done on our own strength.)

So using that truth, people often stretch it to say to hurting people, “God will not put more on you than you can bear.”

Yea — right!

Tell that to me. Or my friends. Or yourself.

Ever feel defeated? Like you can’t handle what you’ve been asked to “bear”?

Imagine telling a mother of two young children after she suddenly loses her husband and fears being able to raise the children, provide for them, and keep the home in which they live, “Remember, God will not put more on you than you can bear.”

Doesn’t sound very comforting to me — or probably to her. At the time she feels very much like she has more on her than she can bear.

And, she does.

And I’m not suggesting God “put” that on her, but He certainly allowed her to have more on her than SHE can bear.

If you’re like the rest of us you have felt that way also. It’s part of being in the fallen world in which we live.

And yet, for the believer we have an answer.

When we feel out of control — in over our head — afraid of the circumstances of our life — worried — our answer is Jesus.

It’s all grace, and it’s a sufficient grace to help us in our time of need. We are more than conquers — with Jesus

Ironically, however, I believe that truth, combined with the misapplication of the verse above, is where the lie in that familiar saying originates.

We have an answer to the stress of this world — a strength to bear any burden. But, that can make us think we should be able to handle anything.

And, we can — with Jesus.

But…

When the administration of that strength rests on us — on our abilities – IF YOU CAN BEAR IT — it leaves out our need for grace.

And, Jesus made it clear when He said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.”

This may seem like semantics, and I’m not usually a semantics kind of guy, but when the semantics are wrong here it can produce a terrible theology. One that says you have to make it on your own. That because you are a believer, you suddenly have the power to defeat anything that comes your way. And, you do have power — but it is NOT you — the power is Jesus in you.

The key here is you won’t have more on you than you can bear — IN JESUS. Paul said, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

But without an understanding of “Christ in me” that phrase “God will not put more on you than you can bear” isn’t freeing. It’s burdensome. And — with any misunderstanding of where our true strength resides — that saying becomes a lie.

And, probably no one who uses that statement intends it to harm — they intend it to be helpful. But the enemy would love you to live in that lie, believing that somehow YOU have to get it together — you have to conquer all the ails you — in your strength, because, you know, “God will not put more on you than you can bear”. It’s a dangerous, defeating statement without proper understanding. It’s not helpful in a person’s time of struggle.

It might be easier to say, “You know, God will never allow anything upon you that HE can’t handle.” And, then we can encourage people to “cast their cares upon Him, because He cares.”

And, as strange as it may seem, those times of disparity — when we are overwhelmed with our personal abilities — unable to stand up to the pressures we are facing — have more on us than we can bear — actually have great value within the sovreignty of God. He uses them for our good.

Here are 21 reasons God may allow more than you can bear:

So you will rely on Him. 1 Peter 5:7

So you will call on Him. Acts 17:26-27

So you have no choice but Him. John 15:5

So He can tell us things we wouldn’t know otherwise. Jeremiah 33:3

So He can be gracious to you. Isaiah 30:18

So He can show His kindness and compassion. Lamentations 3:21-24

So He can restore your soul. Psalm 23:3

So He can demonstrate His strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9

So you will trust in Jesus — and the Father. John 14:1.

So you can produce character and hope. Romans 5:3-5

So He can keep us from being self-reliant 2 Corinthians 12:7

So He can discipline His children. Hebrews 12:6-7

So God’s power is revealed. 2 Corinthians 4:7

So He can show our need for salvation. Psalm 119:67

So He can comfort us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

So we can learn to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

So He can reveal His unseen workings. Psalm 77:19

So He can demonstrate how all things work for an eventual good. Romans 8:28

So the Gospel might be proclaimed. Philippians 1:12-13

So He can draw prodigals home. Luke 15:17

So He can build character and hope. Romans 5:3-4

Don’t believe the lie. God WILL allow more on you than you can bear — alone. You and I need a Him for our every breath.

If you feel overwhelmed today — defeated — like there is more on you than you can bear – turn to the burden bearer. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11:28)

The Jesus Inner Leadership Circle

United around the table

Jesus had an inner circle of leadership.

It sounds exclusive. And it was.

But you should have one too.

Matthew 15:32 Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”

It’s a leadership principle we can learn from and should implement also.

Consistently throughout the ministry of Jesus, we see Him responding to situations in a similar fashion.

Jesus didn’t simply announce His plans.

Instead, He repeatedly called His inner circle together. He prepared His team. Then He announced His plans.

The inner circle of Jesus (His disciples) were continually being shaped for leadership and ministry.

He built loyal followers by personally investing in them.

He gained His team’s confidence by sharing insider information with them.

He expanded His ministry 12-fold by delegating to them.

And, do you think Jesus knew a few things about leading people — people He created?

I think so.

Leader, your largest goal in leadership development should be to develop an inner circle of leaders around you.

When you invest in them — when you allow them to lead — you develop loyal followers who will follow you anywhere and help you accomplish the vision God has given you.

Great leaders — like Jesus — develop their inner circle of leaders first.

I can anticipate the detractors of this post, so let me address you now.

It’s not that you are being exclusive in your leadership development. Everyone can be developed. But rather you are being effective.

It’s impossible to lead too many direct reports in leadership.

That’s why some pastors burn out.

For me, I find I’m less effective when more than 4 or 5 people report directly to me.

Jesus could handle 12 — but He’s Jesus. But even then, it appears Jesus was even more intentional with Peter, James and John. And He consistently tried to slip away from the crowd.

“Follow Me” – Jesus said.

Leaders — do you have an inner circle of leaders you are developing?

10 Indications a Church is Making Disciples

shepherd

I’ve often heard people say you can’t measure discipleship. I don’t know if that’s true.

It is true that you can’t necessarily put a number or percentage on discipleship growth, but you can tell — over time — if it has happened or is happening.

Here are 10 indications a church is making disciples:

Those who have been in the church the longest complain the least. - Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14

The leaders of the church are most likely to give up “their” seats, park further from the building, or do whatever is necessary to help the Body. – The greatest among you must be a servant. Matthew 23:11

The church celebrates most when those far from faith come to faith. In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7

Members care that others needs are met more than their own. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4

The church is willing to make sacrifices to attract the lost – And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Acts 15:19

There is joy even during suffering – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds. James 1:2

The teaching is a balance of truth and grace. Jesus came full of grace and truth. John 1:17

The financial needs of the church are funded, with people willingly sacrificing. No one begs for money. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7

There are no petty disputes and grudges among the people of the church. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The church takes care of each other well. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. Acts 4:34

Let’s keep this going. These are a few that come to my mind. There are others. Prayer. Forgiveness. I’d love to post again — maybe “21 Indications a Church is Making Disciples”. Add one of your own in the comments. (And, give your Bible reference.) I may choose yours for my next post.