I’ve Got So Much to Do Before Christmas!
I’ve noticed a phenomenon in my life that perhaps you’ll relate to this Christmas.
When I feel totally unqualified for a task or position — praise the Lord, the results are stunning and more than I could hope for. Other times, I’ll feel totally prepared for a situation, just to watch it crumble in my grasp.
The Greater Priority for Preparation
I was reminded of this recently, while going through a worship leadership program at my church. We were learning about worship both theologically and practically, and we would come together each week to lead a mock worship service. The first couple weeks were totally nerve-wracking for me. To say I was out of my comfort zone is an understatement. But the feedback I got was all very positive. And I felt a profound sense of peace in my spirit: “This is where you’re supposed to be.”
Fast forward a few weeks. I was still nervous for sure, but I was starting to feel like I had it down. “We’ve done this a few times now. I’ll just practice the songs and it’ll all be good,” I assured myself. Well, it wasn’t good. I forgot my parts, went off key, missed notes, you name it. Though I’d worked hard to prepare practically, I hadn’t taken time to prepare spiritually and get my heart in the right place. And, somehow, the practical preparations fell apart. All my practice was for naught.
Leaving that night, I felt a firm rebuke in my spirit that preparing spiritually for ministry is the greater priority. Sure seems obvious when you put it like that. But in the moment it can feel way more pressing to know the song parts. Or, in other contexts, to study relevant apologetics answers, to make sure the house is clean and the food’s ready, to make sure the church is set up or that all the necessary supplies are purchased… Sure can be easy to stress out about doing the Lord’s work!
The next week, I had limited time to prepare. The temptation sure was strong to forgo some spiritual preparation in order to practice the songs. Especially since everything had gone wrong the week before. But I resisted that temptation. And went into our worship night feeling a little under-prepared, practically speaking. But everything went miles better than the week before.
Sometimes Old Lessons Need Revisiting
The first time I can recall noticing this phenomenon was on a mission trip to Nepal. (Where persecution has increased dramatically in recent years. Please pray for them.) Our team was going around to schools and small towns performing skits and sharing the Gospel with those who gathered to watch.
After returning to the States, a 19-year-old me wrote in my journal, “The biggest thing that I’ve learned from the trip is that when I take a step back and just allow the Lord to do His thing, that’s when everything works out. I noticed that when I went into a conversation feeling like I was prepared, that is when it flopped, and when I felt like I wasn’t prepared, that is when true ministry happened.”
This Christmas season, you probably have a lot to do — a lot to prepare for. Maybe you’ve got unbelieving family members coming into town. Maybe you’re putting on the Christmas production at your church or hosting the Christmas dinner for your small group. Maybe you just want to pass on the importance of Christmas to your children. Or maybe you’re just gearing up for a Christmas alone.
Whatever plans you’ve got in the pipeline, please do prepare for them practically. (Christmas dinner with no food would definitely be a flop, after all.) But please remember the greatest preparation priority this Christmas season: spending time with our Lord and getting your spirit prepared.
Austin Roscoe is The Stream’s web coordinator.