10 Surprises Laypeople Have Given Me as Their Pastor

I’ve served as a senior pastor, associate pastor, Pastor of Equipping, or interim pastor in my years of ministry. Recently I spent some time thinking about some of the surprises laypersons have given me over the years. I’ve listed some of those here, hoping that you’ll find a way to surprise your pastor in the days to come. 

  1. Detailing my car. I tend to live out of cars and drive them until they fall apart, so it was a pleasant surprise when a member took my car and returned it fully cleaned and waxed later that day. 
  2. Inviting me to join them for their weekly family prayer time. I’ve seldom felt so special as I did when that family brought me into the intimacy of their unique time with God. I knew then I was part of their family.
  3. Paying for my vacation. A family in one church invited me to join them on vacation (I was single at the time), and they covered all my expenses. They were willing to do whatever it took to make sure I took a break.
  4. Sending me a text saying, “We love you, pastor.” An unexpected expression of love like this one cost very little, but it made my day. In fact, it carried me through several days. 
  5. Standing by me when I ended an engagement. A few years before I met Pam, my wife, I ended an engagement to be married. I am still in ministry today because that congregation lovingly walked with me through those painful days.
  6. Offering to do free painting in our home. This church member was a faithful but quiet guy who seldom took the lead in anything. He was, though, a painter who wanted to show love to his pastor. I still think about the work he did in our home more than twenty years ago.
  7. Sending reminders of prayers for my parents. Everywhere I’ve served, I’ve asked believers to pray for my parents. I’m convinced that my dad became a believer in response to these prayers not long before he died. To this day, I still get unexpected reminders from folks who are praying for my mom. That means the world to me.
  8. Giving me a signed picture of the church. If you come to our home today, you’ll see a professional photograph of this church, including signatures of many of the members. Pam and I love those folks. 
  9. Giving us restaurant gift cards. My wife and I are busy, and we too seldom take time to relax. Members who knew us well lovingly forced us to do so with this surprise gift. 
  10. Just plain loving me. I know I’m not fully the man I’m supposed to be, and I still have much room to grow. So, I’m deeply, deeply grateful for all the laypersons through the years who’ve loved me. God’s people have themselves been an unexpected gift to me.

Pastors, what surprising gifts have you received from laypersons?


  • Denise Johnson says:

    All these would be great things to do for your missionaries. Or help clean out the basement or garage. Or do an IT tuneup. They may not seem like a very exciting short term mission trip. But it would take a lot of pressure off the missionary.

  • Andrew says:

    The church gave us money to go and visit my wife’s grandma who had suffered a stroke. We would not have been able to afford it otherwise

  • molly says:

    Just last weekend we saw a member at skyline after church and she paid our bill without us knowing it. I had never has someone do that for us and I was touched!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      If you mean “Skyline Chili,” I’m grateful not only for your church member, but also for your reminding me of one of my favorite eating places in Ohio!  

  • Cody says:

    My wife and I were given money for a second honeymoon. Yes, second honeymoon. This layperson new we already had one planned but insisted that we go on a cruise during this first year of our marriage.

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