One of the realities of leading in a ministry setting is that getting things done means recruiting and leading a lot of volunteers. For me, leading volunteers is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I get to do ministry as a job, but there are hundreds of volunteers at our church who give some of their free time each week to take part in furthering our mission and vision: to help people meet and follow Jesus.
One of the tensions ministry leaders live in is how to set the bar high for our volunteers while acknowledging the reality that they are unpaid workers giving their time—meaning we can’t really limit their vacation time each year. Volunteers are amazing for what they give, but every pastor knows the feeling of holding the bag because a few volunteers forgot to tell you they’d be out of town or someone volunteered to lead a program but didn’t follow through. How do you lead exceptional teams of volunteers without being a dictator that volunteers eventually don’t want to work with?
Lead with vision
If you’ve been burned by low commitment in the past, it’s tempting to lead volunteers with a heavy hand. A volunteer is late two weeks in a row? They can’t serve if they’re not committed. Someone calls in at the last minute? Your response is…firm. Volunteers are just like anyone else: They want to be a part of something that matters. Inspiring a volunteer is far more effective than being a dictator. Sure, it takes some extra effort, but in the long run, it’s worth it.Continue Reading