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FIRST-PERSON: Gift ideas for your pastor


It’s that time of year when many people are buying special gifts to thank those that have helped them throughout the year like their mail carrier, hairdresser or child’s teacher. And many also consider a special gift for their pastor.

As a pastor’s wife of nearly 25 years, I can say that these gifts have always been appreciated. From delicious baked goods to gift cards and cash, my husband has always been overwhelmed with gratitude that people take the time to remember him (and our family) in this way. As much as those material gifts are enjoyed, I’d like to suggest some additional gifts that I know your pastor would appreciate as well. 

Write him a letter (or email)

Tell him something specific that encouraged you from a recent sermon or Bible study he led. Most pastors put so much effort into their sermons each week. It can be so meaningful to hear something beyond just “good job today.” Even better, share with him how you applied something you learned from a sermon to your life. When a pastor hears that a sermon led you to have a Gospel conversation with a coworker or to forgive a long-held grudge, it can help him see the value and purpose in his efforts. 

Love his family

If your pastor is married or has children, take time to get to know them. Ask them how they are doing. Find out what activities his children enjoy. Offer to help babysit or attend a school event, especially if they don’t have extended family nearby. Manage expectations you may have for his family, and give them grace as much as possible. It can be challenging to live in the fishbowl of ministry life. Your pastor will be blessed to see his congregation caring for his family well.

Be a friend

One of the top issues that pastors face is loneliness. Many pastors say they struggle to forge genuine friendships. Invite him to play golf. Schedule a game night. Take him to lunch. Then take time to talk to him about things outside church responsibilities and to take his pastor “hat” off and just relax.

Be a good church member

Make attending church a priority. Invite your neighbors, friends and coworkers to a church service or an outreach event. Tithe regularly to your church. Volunteer to teach, serve on a committee, clean-up after an event. It can be the biggest encouragement to a pastor to have someone anticipate a need and step in to help before he even has to ask.

Squelch negativity

I’m not saying that you can never disagree or voice your opinion. But ask questions about a decision you don’t understand before getting upset. There may be much more to the decision or situation than you know about. When you hear gossip or complaining, encourage those people to go directly to the pastor or people involved to resolve that conflict. Don’t let a few negative voices control the narrative of your congregation. Disagreement can weigh so heavy on a pastor as he shepherds his flock.

Pray for him

I know that can often sound cliché, but I would encourage you to set aside specific time each week to pray for your pastor and other church leaders. Pray for their spiritual life, their time management, the conversations they will have that week, and for wisdom and discernment as they counsel others and make decisions. One of my husband’s biggest blessings was a church member that had an appointment to call him each Monday. This man often traveled for work, but he would take the time to call and pray the sweetest and most thoughtful prayers.

Work on your relationship with God

The goal of all believers should be the same: to love God and to love others. When we are praying, studying God’s Word and looking to glorify God with our lives, we will accomplish that goal. God gives us pastors to lead our congregations, but we must also take responsibility for our spiritual lives. 

I realize that many of you reading this are pastors. You may be wishing that your church members would read this, but it would be awkward to share. I want you to know that I’m praying for you and your church. I am praying that God will send people to encourage you this Christmas season and in the days ahead. And even in those moments when you are lonely, discouraged and frustrated, I’m praying that you will remember that God sees you. Your work is not in vain. 

Melissa Busby leads the ministry wives support network for the Baptist Convention of New England and serves in the women’s, youth and children’s ministries at South Shore Baptist Church in Hingham, Mass., where her husband is senior pastor.

    About the Author

  • Melissa Busby