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4 priorities for pastors between Christmas and Easter
How should preachers most effectively prioritize their time and energy in the long approach to Easter?
Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?
Here are four priorities I would suggest to maximize your fruitfulness.
Preaching should always be your highest priority in leading the church. It is the fuel for the fire of spiritual growth. There may be other areas you have to delegate and some that may just need to be neglected for a season, but preaching should be prioritized.
Most preachers are energized by preaching rather than depleted, so making preaching a priority may actually rejuvenate you as you gain back your stride. Keep in mind Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5).
Preaching should always be your highest priority in leading the church.
Preach the gospel to believers and unbelievers alike each and every week. Preaching a new series that begins in January and culminates right before Easter is a very effective way of growing the church in depth and breadth.
Here’s the irony of prayer: we need to be praying more than ever when we are spent, but prayer is always the first thing we drop from our schedules when we grow tired and busy.
Don’t make that mistake. Make a daily, weekly, and monthly prayer schedule. Devote your best hour each day to pray. You may not pray that entire time, but having an hour set aside is wise.
Set aside a two-hour block of time once a week for prayer. The last hours you work on Friday are excellent for this, as you are likely familiar with your sermon and are on the cusp of the most important gathering of the week. This will also launch you into a Saturday of rest with a calm heart and a clear head.
We need to be praying more than ever when we are spent.
Then devote a single whole day to prayer once a month. I prefer the last Monday of the month. Observations from Sunday are still fresh and the mounting pressure of next Sunday is still six days away. Keep your prayers simple and focused on the health and growth of the church. Guard these sessions vigorously and you will begin to be freed from false pressures and fatal busyness.
3. Developing leaders
The smartest way to build for a sustainable future is to prioritize developing capable leaders. It is also the most biblical way. This is precisely why the Apostle Paul impressed on Timothy the importance of raising up of elders, “faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Tim. 2:2) through the illustration of a disciplined soldier, a victorious athlete, and a “hard-working farmer” (2 Tim. 2:6).
These newly trained leaders will be able to help you shoulder the ministry burden of the church as well as allow for specialization so that teams of elders are serving most effectively. A healthy elder team is crucial for a healthy church.
4. Active recovery
Endurance athletes have learned the importance of active recovery. For example, instead of resting entirely after a 20-mile training run, a marathon runner may run a shorter distance at a slower pace the next day. This actually enhances recovery more than complete rest does.
A healthy elder team is crucial for a healthy church.
I believe the same concept applies to ministry during this season. Don’t just schedule a week off sometime between Christmas and Easter, only to re-enter the race with ministry responsibilities piled up and deadlines looming. Instead, I recommend you take advantage of the New Year by resetting your schedule so that your highest priorities get the very best of your energy.
Getting your priorities right between Christmas and Easter will help you run the race better and longer!