How to Survive Holy Week: A Guide for Church Leaders

It's Holy Week (no surprise to any reader of this site). Depending on your tradition, you may have one, two, or as many as five extra services. Here are some ideas for surviving with more grace and less stress:

  • Keep the end in mind. We're heading for Easter. It's about life, not exhaustion. What are one or two things you can do this week to give yourself life and energy?
  • Do one thing at a time. Multitasking has been discredited. Focus on the task at hand and the person in front of you. Turn your phone off, or at least silence it, while you are writing your Easter sermon.
  • Accept the burden. It's a busy week, and it will be over on Sunday. When I was a pastor, I never seemed to be able to even begin my Easter sermon until Saturday. Once I accepted it, Holy Week was a lot less stressful. I never got up in the Easter pulpit empty-handed.
  • Have compassion for the Easter-only crowd. Celebrate that they are there, and accept the reality you won't see them again until next year. And ignore the person who says, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had this many people every Sunday?!"
  • Let go of perfection. You won't be prepared enough. And someone, probably you, and probably someone else, too, will make a mistake that will mar the worship.
  • Plan a reward. You are taking Monday off, right?
  • Protect yourself from the anxiety of others. If staff or lay leaders are running around like crazy, let them. Do a little hand-holding if necessary but be clear about your own responsibilities and keep your focus on them.
  • Celebrate! It's Easter, after all. Even if the week is truly crazy and you can only really celebrate at 1:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday, do it then.
  • Remember that it's not about you. You're the messenger. It's about Jesus, the Resurrection, and new life for all. Let that reality not add to the pressure, but relieve it. The new life is for preachers, too.

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