By David Guretzki
Your Christmas shopping is nearly done – right? But have you thought about what to get your pastor this year?
If you’re really stuck on what to get your pastor, it’s a safe bet to go for the giftcard to her or his favourite bookstore or online book seller. It will definitely put a smile on any pastor’s face.
But let me suggest three other gifts you can give your pastor this Christmas season.
Gift #1: Gratitude.
We may assume that our pastors know they are appreciated, and perhaps you’ve even told them lately. Good for you. But we should be aware that many pastors labour in relative isolation, and sometimes wonder whether their efforts are paying off. Sure, they may hear the occasional, “Good message, Pastor!”at the door on the way out of church. But that’s easy to mistake, even if it’s genuine, as little more than Sunday morning politeness.
So why not take some time to sit down with a blank Christmas card, and think through some of the very specific things you might appreciate about your pastor. Perhaps he is a great listener, or has an amazing sense of humour. Or maybe you appreciate how expertly she helps to resolve conflict or how one particular message (or series of messages) spurred you forward in your own spiritual growth. Once you’ve identified one or two of those things, take the time to write these thoughts out and thank them very specifically.
Or better yet, take your pastor aside and speak these things directly to them.
In short, heartfelt, authentic words of thanks can do wonders.
Gift #2: Your Generosity.
You might think I’m pressuring you to put an extra cheque in the offering plate this Christmas. And I won’t deny that year-end is often a needy time for congregations, and pastors can sometimes feel the stresses when a church is running behind budget. So by all means, be as generous as you can be in your charitable giving.
The fact is, however, your pastor likely will never know you’ve given something extra in the offering plate. Most pastors don’t have access to such information, and many simply don’t want to know. So the extra financial gift, while perhaps indirectly encouraging to your pastor, is really between you and the Lord.
What I’m really talking about is challenging us all to think about how we can extend our generosity in ways that are directly applicable to our pastors.
Pastors are often exhausted by the time the Christmas season is over. So it may be good to consider how you might help them get a needed rest or break in the new year. Maybe you have access to a winter cabin, or a time-share where your pastor and spouse could take a short break in the new year?
Or maybe your pastor is a fan who rarely gets to go to a professional game or a symphony concert? Why not get some good tickets and send your pastor and spouse on their way?
Or maybe you have a skill or trade you could offer? To fix that jammed garage door, or to help with replacement of that cracked window in the pastor’s porch?
Or maybe you are an accountant and could offer to do the pastor’s taxes for free? The sky’s the limit in how we can offer tangible generosity to our spiritual shepherds. Which leads me to the last gift . . .
Gift #3: Your Giftedness.
There’s one more gift we all have that we all can give: Our own spiritual giftedness.
Scripture teaches us that all members of the Body of Christ have been spiritually gifted. Some, like your pastor, are likely gifted to teach and preach and care. But all of us are also gifted, whether as helpers or administrators, or as givers or discerners. Given that a pastor’s main job is to ensure the flock is equipped to use their gifts (see Ephesians 4), one of the best gifts we can give our pastor is the offer and effort to put our own gifts to work.
The good thing is that in offering this gift to a pastor, we are also offering it to God.
Now maybe you’re frustrated that no one is recognizing your gifts or asking you to make use of them. If you haven’t been asked to this point, probably you won’t be asked any time in the near future either.
So instead of waiting for someone to ask, why not make an appointment with your pastor to ask how you might serve? Indeed, there’s probably little else that warms your pastor’s heart more than for his or her flock members to offer their service to the congregation or community.
Pastors are often taken off guard by the offer to serve because they are so used to being the one serving, so don’t be offended if your pastor doesn’t answer right away. But you can be confident your pastor will take your offer seriously—and will get back to you.
In the meantime, the offer to serve may do more to give your pastor a merry Christmas than anything else you could have offered—though they will still really appreciate the giftcard for books!
Author: David Guretzki