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Over the last few years, The Christmas Creep has really worked its way into society.

Radio stations start playing carols earlier each year. Black Friday is essentially now a week-long event. Christmas d?cor starts going on sale when we are still dealing with the remnants of the ?back to school? season. And chances are that most churches in America start their Christmas event planning just a hair earlier each year. After all, if we?re going to one-up what we did last year, we have to get the ball rolling sooner, right?

So, Church Christmas Creep slowly begins inching into the summer, as planning meetings take form and brainstorming sessions get scheduled. We head toward the fall season with one eye reluctantly toward Advent and?as if we didn?t already have enough on our plates?now we keep one foot in the Christmas bucket while planning and executing four to five months? worth of events.

?Busyness? is arguably one of the greatest challenges that any church tech person will ever encounter. And the pressure leading up to a big event like Christmas only makes that worse. But as summer bleeds into fall, it?s critical that we all take time to stop, breathe, and take stock of where we are in five critical areas. We?ll post the first two today?with the next three posting tomorrow. (Look for the post.)

1. Check Your Altitude.

When we?re running the rat race every day, it?s easy to get wrapped up in the daily minutiae that keep us all busy: scheduling volunteers, fixing gear, running rehearsals, attending meetings, and the other necessary hum-drum of our job. But if all we ever do is stay hyper-focused on the head-down world of daily productivity, we run the risk of one day looking up and realizing that we?ve been dragged so far off course that we don?t know where we are. Those who are in the weeds of life can never see what?s beyond them.[quote]Those who are in the weeds of life can never see what?s beyond them.[/quote]

Instead of letting our daily agenda and to-do list determine our direction, we need to periodically have times where we stop and step back to assess our perspective?our altitude. Am I allowing myself to plan long-term (high altitude), or is the pressure of daily performance determining my direction (stuck in the weeds)? Am I setting personal and professional goals for myself, or am I listlessly flowing wherever I get dragged each week? Am I effectively planning for future growth and expansion of my team and in our ministry, or am I just concerned with slapping Band-Aids on each issue that pops up?

Having an incorrect altitude and perspective not only gets us off track today, but it can cause us to look back weeks or months from now and realize that we?ve spun our wheels heading in the wrong direction. As they say, there?s nothing worse than climbing the corporate ladder, only to realize that it was leaned up against the wrong tree.[quote]There?s nothing worse than climbing the corporate ladder, only to realize that it was leaned up against the wrong tree.[/quote]

2. Ask Yourself, ?Should I Be Doing This??

This isn?t a question of whether the tasks on our plate are important. It?s a question about who is the best person to complete that task.

Almost everyone I know in the church tech world struggles with delegation, simply because it?s often so hard to let go of things. We?re afraid that others won?t complete the task at our own high level of personal expectation, so we feel that it?s just easier if we do it ourselves?since we?ll probably have to go back and redo it anyway. The problem is that we keep adding more and more pressure on ourselves to do everything, and the weight of that will ultimately cause us to collapse.[quote]My job as a leader is to do only the things I can do.[/quote]

Instead, we must take the time to identify those around us with enthusiasm, availability, and talent, and assess the areas where they can help us out. My job as a leader is to do only the things I can do. God has blessed me with an inherent set of strengths and abilities, and I need to operate in those as much as possible. I must find other people, help them identify their strengths, and then determine what I can train them to do. There is short-term discomfort during the training process, but the long-term results are well worth it. More work can get done, and it allows me to focus more time and energy on the things that are critical that I be the one to do. And now is the time to start; not during the Christmas season.

What changes do you need to make in these first two areas? Are you preparing properly for Christmas? Or is the Christmas Creep going to sneak up on you again and overwhelm you?

Look for part two tomorrow.

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