As a pastor, I appreciate every gift or expression of love from those who serve with me on staff. I’m blessed to serve with the world’s greatest staff, and I thank the Lord for them every day.
Recently, I began thinking of the intangible gifts that staff members give to me on a regular basis, and I came up with a list of ten. (I’m sure there are many times more.)
So…if you serve on a church staff and have been wondering what you can give your pastor for Christmas, here you go:
1. Understanding and implementing a biblical ministry philosophy—Seek to capture the biblical philosophy your pastor follows in ministry. Make an effort to understand his heart and how he would handle specific situations.
For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.—Philippians 2:20–21
2. Production in your area—Whatever your assigned area, remember that you were hired because the pastor is not physically able to do it all. He may have hired you because you have skills he doesn’t have, or it may be because he needs to multiply his time. In either case, you give your pastor a gift by being diligent and productive.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;—Romans 12:11
3. Communicating in vital matters—Keep your pastor in the loop in vital areas of ministry. Keep him abreast of needs in the church family, give him updates regarding your work and ministry, and communicate regarding large decisions or needs in your life as well. You give your pastor a gift when you push information toward him without him having to remember to ask you for it.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.—Ephesians 4:29
4. Sensitivity to what is hurtful to him—As you deal with ministry-related situations and with other people, remember that you are representing your pastor. When you have a difference with a church member or mishandle a ministry situation, you very well may bring an additional burden for the pastor to handle. Be careful, and be sensitive, and you will refresh his spirit.
For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.—1 Corinthians 16:18
5. Responsiveness to preaching—This is one of the top ways every staff member can encourage their pastor. When you are engaged and responsive during his messages, that alone is a tremendous encouragement!
Occasionally share with your pastor (as well as with others you lead in a Sunday school class or ministry) how a particular message has been a help to you. And be careful that you’re not missing every church service for ministry responsibilities (nursery, children’s classes, etc.). I ask our staff to miss no more than one service a week. In a smaller church, that may be more difficult, but you do need to be in church regularly. It’s difficult to be responsive to preaching you’re not hearing!
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.—1 Thessalonians 2:13
6. Demonstrating patience regarding the implementation of your idea or a response to your perception of the greatest need—As a pastor, I am thrilled when someone is excited about a ministry idea or burdened to serve in a particular capacity. But I can’t respond to everyone’s idea all at once (I can’t even keep up with my own ideas!), and sometimes their perception of the greatest need is not consistent with the big picture vision I believe God has given me.
As a staff member, be patient with your pastor as he seeks to follow the Lord. Give him time, and remember that just because you don’t see something happening in regards to your idea doesn’t mean it isn’t developing behind the scenes.
…the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.—Ecclesiastes 7:8
7. Commitment to the whole ministry—It’s easy as a staff member to get tunnel vision for a single area of ministry. Be aware of other ministries in your church besides what you are personally responsible for, and be willing to pitch in where needed. For instance, even if you were hired to help with the youth department, you can also serve in an occasional children’s class or help host an adult fellowship. Be committed to the church body as a whole.
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.—1 Corinthians 12:18–20
8. Participation in church-wide events—Similar to the gift of commitment above, participation in church-wide events means that you are eager to serve outside of your specific job description to pull together with the church as a whole. When the church hosts an Open House Sunday, for instance, a Christian school teacher can be just as involved as the outreach pastor.
I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)—1 Corinthians 16:15
9. Godly living and testimony—Your life outside the office (including what you post on social networks) is a reflection of God’s grace in your life or the lack of it. As you honor the Lord by maintaining a godly testimony, you also give a gift to your pastor.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;—Titus 2:11–12
10. Sharing and implementing the pastor’s vision—Your pastor labors to cast a vision for the future to the church family. Seek to understand that vision and to share it by faith. And in any way that it applies to your sphere of ministry or influence, own it and implement it.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.—Proverbs 29:18
These ten gifts are shared from a pastor’s perspective. If you serve on a church staff, I’d like to add one more note, also from a pastor’s perspective: you are a gift.
Thank you for your willingness to invest your lives to serve in the trenches. Your heart for God and for people and your willingness to serve means the world to your pastor.