Gifts, parties, people, and fun! These are just a few of the things that make holidays so exciting. But holidays can be a stressful time as well. Not only for ministry leaders but the women we serve. Underneath the decorations and traditions are often memories of hurt, loss, rejection, and unmet expectations. So as we ramp up our ministry to parallel the excitement of the holiday, we emotionally take on more as we address the hurts and wounds of the women in our communities.

This often means we pour out everything that’s in us to meet the needs of the women in our path. We spend hours preparing and planning our events months ahead of time, wrapping thoughtful gifts with coordinating paper and bows (I’ll be honest, I cannot wrap a beautiful bow to save my life!), and getting the music and devotions just right. We do everything we can to make sure the experience for the season comes off without a hitch. I don’t doubt for a minute that in our ministries you and I are nailing it. We are kind, gentle, and sensitive to the needs of others; we listen, pray, and care for each woman individually. Okay, maybe we’re not nailing it all the time, but on some level, Jesus is shining through.

Yet despite all our best intentions, we show up empty at home. What words would our families use to characterize us? Would it be the same kind, gentle, prayerful demeanor others see?

Or would the words “impatient, moody, exhausted, and cranky” more accurately describe the me that comes home? Often our families get the physical and emotional leftovers—and that’s not very appealing.

Maybe it’s time to honestly evaluate where our priorities are. How do we keep our priorities straight and have enough of us to go around, both as we begin planning for the holidays ahead and when we’re actually in the middle of the busy holiday season? Here are two thoughts.

First, making personal time with Jesus has to be our number one priority. As Christfollowers we have 24-hour-a-day access to God, and not only that, but we have the Holy Spirit who resides within us. As we abide in Christ, we are filled with his presence and equipped to do God’s work. John 15:4 says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” It’s in the presence of God that we have rest, hope, and power. You and I must “abide,” setting aside time daily to read from God’s Word and to have intentional time of prayer. It is in this time that we are filled, so that we can give out of the abundance in our lives and not come up empty.

Second, we have to set boundaries. A careful look at our calendars will reveal where our priorities lie. Let’s commit to asking God where and how he wants us to spend our time. Psalm 127:1-2 says, “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.”

I know this won’t be new information to you, but I know I need to be reminded of this as well—God doesn’t actually need me; it’s just that God chooses to use me despite my weaknesses, and then he gets the glory. There will always be more to be done, more women with needs, more fine tuning needed to make things run more smoothly. When I acknowledge that God is in charge of meeting the needs of his girls and not me, it relieves a lot of pressure. Unless God is directing our ministry, our time, and our influence, our efforts are in vain.

So how about it? Let’s commit to a new habit today. Let’s start today with Jesus, finding our rest in him and tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. And as we ask for wisdom, let the Lord guide us. May those in our homes see a difference in us no matter what the next holiday is. May we be to our families the same Spirit-filled woman we are to those we serve in our churches.

My kids are asking to go ride bikes in the puddles created by the recent rain. I think it’s a good time for me to practice what we just talked about and go have some fun!

Tamara is a writer, speaker, wife, and mother to 5 children. She lives with her crazy family in Arizona. Tamara fills her days loving on her family and the women around her and at any given point can be found dancing in her kitchen (much to the dismay of her children).