10 Christmas Gifts I’d Love to Give to Young Pastors

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It’s been a long time since I was a young pastor, but I still remember how exciting–-and sometimes difficult—those days were. As I think about the young pastors-to-be I’m training at Southeastern Seminary, here are some things I’d love to give them for Christmas:


  1. An older pastoral mentor. No matter how old we get, we need someone who invests in us. And, we need someone who’s committed to the task enough to build a genuine relationship with us.
  2. An example of a pastor who finishes the race well. That pastor might well be the mentor in #1, but a young generation who has seen so many pastors fall need to see faithfulness to the end. They need examples.
  3. A few genuine friends. Sometimes, sadly, they’re hard to find in pastoral ministry. A few good friends, though, can encourage us to press on even in the most difficult times. It’s good to know we’re not alone.
  4. A loving, supportive church for their first church. I’ve written about this important topic in the past. A young pastor who first experiences a good church always knows there are other good churches out there—no matter what he might face.
  5. A livable wage. I’m not arguing against a bi-vocational position, but I am arguing that congregations need to take care of their pastors. Even rookie pastors shouldn’t have to worry about putting food on the table.
  6. An annual paid international mission trip. Young pastors will be better pastors—and their churches will be stronger churches—if their hearts beat for the nations. I wish for every young pastor to have a church who sends him overseas annually.
  7. A strong marriage that flourishes even under the pressures of ministry. You can work through a lot in leading a church as long as your home life is strong. All of us need a safe, affirming, fun place to call home.
  8. Wisdom to navigate all the things pastors face—and backbone to stand for truth. Had you told me as a young pastor we’d be facing all we face today in our changing culture, I likely would have laughed back then. Today, pastors need wisdom and strength every second of every day.
  9. Glimpses into lives changed through their ministry. That begins with their having the privilege of leading others to Christ and baptizing them. Every pastor ought to have the joy of sharing in this joyous experience (and, if you need some encouragement, here’s the story of my mom’s becoming a believer at age 79).
  10. A clear commitment TODAY to finish well in the end. Nobody finishes well in the end by accident. They finish well in the long run because they’re committed to finishing well today . . . and tomorrow . . . and every day that stretches before them. I would give them this gift so they can become gift #2 above to another generation of pastors.

What would you give to young pastors this Christmas?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published at

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Chuck Lawless

Director of the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership

Dr. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions, Dean of Doctoral Studies, and Vice-President for Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary, in addition to serving as Team Leader for Theological Education Strategists for the International Mission Board. He previously served as a Vice-President for Global Theological Advance for the IMB. Prior to that, he was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, where he also served as Vice President for Academic Programming and the Director of Professional Doctoral Studies. He received a B.S. degree from Cumberland College and M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary. He is the author of eight works, including “Membership Matters,” and “Spiritual Warfare,” and has contributed numerous articles to denominational periodicals. He and his wife Pam have been married for over 25 years and reside here in Wake Forest, NC.

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