Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of stressed out church communicators grinding their teeth. We’re in the midst of December and the frenzied holiday season. It can be especially hectic at church as you’re preparing for one of the biggest events of the year.
So rather than wait until Dec. 26, now is a good time to stare down the stress. Whether you’re a lone volunteer or the leader of a team, you need to take action to restore sanity.
We’re still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, but it’s easy to forget to give thanks. Take some time to push back from your computer and reflect on all you have to be thankful for. Make a list if you need to (and check it twice, because it’s not a to-do list!). Then express that gratitude. Write some thank you notes. Call up a friend. Send an email that’s not asking for anything.
Take some time to remember what you love about this job and revel in it. Tell your boss thank you. Spend some time with God in prayer, reflecting on your work, your stress, your challenges and your joys. Say thank you to God.
Give the Gift of Thanks
Say thank you to the many people who make communication happen at your church with an unexpected gift. You may not have a budget to pay volunteers, but you should be able to scrape together a few bucks for a small gift. Maybe it’s something fun like Temptation Bangs Forever: The Worst Church Signs You’ve Ever Seen or something practical like a gift card for a local coffee shop. Maybe it’s something fun for the office, like Nerf guns or one of those crazy remote controlled helicopters. Or maybe it’s something made with love, like some homemade Christmas cookies.
Even if you work alone, you likely have people you rely on, whether it’s the Facebook friend who offers advice or the pastor who oversees your work. Find a way to give something back to show how much you appreciate them.
Give to Yourself
While this season is all about others, it’s OK to think about yourself. Take a break at the coffee shop, get yourself a treat and spend some time to yourself. Don’t bring your work with you. Or get yourself a gift this year. Buy that book you’ve been dying to read or splurge on some new music (did you hear Five Iron Frenzy is back?!). Get yourself something that can help you handle the stress, whether it’s a box of Legos or a night at the movies.
It’s hard to take time to reflect and refresh when we’re facing a deadline, but doesn’t it sound nice? Make a plan to do it. Register for a conference next year or add a good book to your wishlist. Schedule some time to step back and rediscover your inspiration and passion.
Maybe the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a good time for reading. Pick something motivational, perhaps our own Church Communication Heroes Volume 1 or maybe Addie Zierman’s When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over. You don’t have to read something super practical, but find a good read that can help you think about how we talk about our faith.
Maybe it’s time to plan a party for your team. Put a game night on the calendar or plan a ‘Christmas is over!’ party for the middle of January. Make sure your team has a chance to recharge.
Or maybe put that spring or summer event on the calendar now so you know you have a refreshing break coming up. Pulling the trigger on these events is always hard, especially if the budget is tight or non-existent. But now is the time to do it. Request the budget. Start saving your pennies. The longer you put it off the more likely you’ll forget and soon it’s too late.
Stop Stress Sooner
Christmas is a good time to remember gratitude, but it’s kind of a last ditch effort. Do it now to help yourself and your team. But next year don’t wait until everyone is stressed. Make a plan to do something throughout the year, whether it’s taking your volunteers out for coffee or sending thank you notes.