What NOT to Get Your Rector (Or Their Spouse) for Christmas!


I have been having fun writing about some gift ideas for Rectors and their Spouses. I served as a Rector for over 30 years and spend a lot of time now with Rectors and their families.

I know that many laypeople want to get the Rector and their Spouse a gift for Christmas to show their love and appreciation. I also know that the Rector probably isn’t sending out a Christmas list. That’s awkward!


So, I hope I have been able to give some great ideas about what to get for your Rector and their Spouse.

As I was thinking about it, I also thought of some things to NOT get your Rector or their Spouse.

Some of these might seem natural, but it will feel like coal in the stocking. Here are four things you might be tempted to get your Rector and / or their Spouse that they really don’t want:

1. Overly Personal / Specific Gifts

There are many items that seem like they would make for a good gift that are overly personal.

For example, articles of clothing are usually a matter of personal preference. Clothing size may even be a closely guarded secret.

One Rector told me that his wife is a teacher. One year she got 8 different hand lotions from her students. Several of them contained things that she was allergic to, and a few had fragrances she did not care for at all. She appreciated the thoughtfulness but had no use for these overly personal items.

(Okay, let’s be honest, she probably REGIFTED them to her kids’ teachers, but that’s a whole other topic!)

2. Books

I know, I know. Earlier I said that you SHOULD get your Rector a gift card for books.

But that is very different than getting them actual books!

You run two dangers when you buy a book.

First, the Rector may already own that book—especially if it’s a favorite author that they quote often in sermons or other teaching environments.

Second, it may be a book that really would help them but would send the wrong message.

All of these well-meaning gifts would come off as implied critique. Christmas isn’t the time for continuing education! Stick with the gift card!

3. Crosses / Candles

The most natural thing in the world would be to go to the gift section of your favorite Christian bookstore. I am sure they have many great gifts—including lots of beautiful crosses and candles.

That would seem perfect, right?!? The cross is the enduring symbol of our faith. Candles adorn most of our churches and all of our homes.

Here’s the thing—your Rector and their Spouse own a cross. They probably own lots of them and have their favorites. They probably have enough candles to last for several, several decades.

(They also have journals, stationery, and many of the other common items in the gift section of the Christian bookstore. For that matter, they also have items related to Clergy appreciation—mugs, shirts, etc.)

You’ll be tempted to go into the Christian gifts section, but resist the temptation!

4. Self-Improvement Gifts

There are many great gifts and options having to do with health and self-improvement. Chances are, your Rector (and their Spouse) could use some help in this area, just like all of us can.

But it would send the wrong message at Christmas!

They would probably love a membership to the local gym, but what message would that send?

Every couple could benefit from and would use 6 sessions with a Biblical Counselor. Honestly, your church would be wise to work that into the annual budget because the health of their marriage will benefit them and pay dividends for their minister in your midst. But, it’s not the kind of thing to give as a gift!


The best pastoral relationships have an element of humor in them! I hope you have enjoyed this list of things to NOT get your Rector (or their Spouse) during the upcoming Christmas season. Do find a way to show them your love and appreciation!

Published on

December 19, 2019


David Roseberry

David Roseberry leads the nonprofit ministry, LeaderWorks. He was the founding rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and is the author of many books. He lives in Plano with his wife, Fran.

View more from David Roseberry


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