No doubt, this is the best time of the year! And in many ways, it’s also the busiest. There’s a simple, effective way to make the Christmas season balanced and Christ-honoring. On this first day of December I challenge you to do the following exercise. It will spare you a lot of frustration in the next four weeks.
1. Start with the December Calendar—get the month of December, and place everything you have scheduled onto that calendar. Though I use a computer calendar, I find that printing it out helps for this process. The key is, it must be complete. Everything you have scheduled needs to be visible in one place—every church service, every soulwinning time, every appointment, every fellowship, every basketball game, every commitment, etc. You might consider color coding it—family, church, work, etc.
2. Set an Appointment with Your Spouse—find at least an hour over lunch or go to a quiet place where you can study the month together and discuss the commitments. This appointment is critical. A lot of times, we have frustration in our relationships regarding schedules because of a lack of communication. When our expectations differ, we are on a collision course. When we can talk about our schedule ahead of time and decide together what is best, things go better because we share the same expectations. This solves a lot of problems before they happen.
3. Together, Make a List of Things You Want/Need to Do This Month—creatively make a list of the things you want to do to make December special and memorable. For us this is usually things like decorate the tree, make some sugar cookies, play some games on family nights, have a couple of nice dinners out, take family photos, do some Christmas shopping, maybe visit a Christmas place (lights, etc.). Decide when and how you will make Christmas memorable for your family.
4. Together, Make a List of People You Desire to Minister To—the Lord will lead you to minister to people this season. It might be a neighbor, a friend, a coworker, a Sunday school class, or some other family or group in your church. Determine how you will minister to them—whether it is inviting them to church, hosting them at your home, baking some treats, hosting a fellowship, or doing some other act of kindness.
5. Identify Things That Will Create Pressure—there are some things this season that are predictably pressure-filled—like getting the house ready for company, packing for a trip, getting the gifts purchased and wrapped, and preparing for some special aspect of the season. During this planning date, before the pressure hits, decide how you can sanely accomplish what is before you. It might require packing early, allowing extra time around those deadlines, enlisting the help of others, etc. When a couple looks at these things together, they often come up with really good solutions as a team.
6. Put It All Together on the Calendar—Now start putting steps two through five on your calendar. This is the hardest part because it requires you to make tough decisions—to say yes to some things and no to some things. Work together in the cooperative effort of planning a December to remember. Listen to each other’s concerns and be a team in finding solutions. Plan the busy time and the down time. Plan the memories. Plan the date nights. Put it all on the calendar—what day you plan to bake cookies, what night the game is, what day you plan to visit or minister to a needy person, and when you plan to pack for that trip. Be willing to bend and flex. Above all, make choices that honor the Lord and keep Him first.
You and your family are a finite resource. December is a finite resource. Before you know it, the Christmas season will be past and 2010 will have begun. Ten years from now, you will wish you purposefully planned and cherished this season. And you will not regret the choices of integrity that you made together.
Schedule your planning date today—December has already begun!
Have a great December, on purpose.