Everyone wants to belong, to be believed in, to be loved, and to be encouraged.
When leading volunteers, we must genuinely believe in their potential to be a part of the body of Christ and to do great things. We must know that they belong in and play a crucial part in building the local church. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a necessary part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Although, knowing these things doesn’t make it easy to show genuine love. Our actions show what we feel. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). We have to be careful to make sure the perception of things are what we want them to be. Our actions, words, and reactions should result in the perception that we truly care. “Let us stop just saying we love each other, let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 4:18). This comes with self discipline and intentionality.
Here’s a few ways we can show a volunteer genuine love:
1. Put on blinders.
When in a conversation with a volunteer, focus only on them. Look them in the eyes. Make them feel like they are the only person in the room.
2. Remember their name.
Be intentional to remember a volunteer’s name and call them by it. Everyone loves to hear their own name. It makes them feel important and shows them that you care about them as an individual.
3. Listen up.
Ask volunteers questions and listen. Build rapport with them. Ask them about their life, their family, their job, their story. Everyone loves to share their story. You wanting to know them lets them know you care.
4. Never say goodbye.
Say thanks! The power of a personal message cannot be understated. Send a short handwritten note, a text or an email after a conversation with someone. Let them know it was great to see them. Add a personal thought from your conversation in the note. This reinforces the fact that you did listen them and that you care.
5. Be a roadblock.
Relationships need touch points. Put yourself in the path of the people you are serving alongside. This allows for continued conversations, which reinforces the idea that people are more important than the tasks that you’ve asked them to complete.
6. Actions speak louder than words.
Never ask someone to do something that you are not willing to do. Although volunteers are necessary for us to be successful, it goes such a long way to serve alongside a volunteer. Be willing to step up and help. Allow volunteers to see your passion in serving not just instructing. In John 13 Jesus set the example of servant leadership by washing the disciples feet. It works!
7. Say what you feel.
Say thank you, say I love you, say I love serving beside you, say I’m so thankful for all you do. Say what you feel. Never assume that people know these things. In a fast paced, technology driven, dog-eat-dog world, people don’t hear they matter enough. Let their volunteer opportunity be the exception that they look forward to each week. Encourage them continually. Build them up. Believe in them. Be the exception to their worldly rules.
8. Volunteers are not one size fits all.
Love each person right where they are, who they are, how they are. Pray to see them the way Jesus sees them. Help them figure out what their next step in their walk with Christ is. This makes serving exciting and enhances relationships.
In today’s world, most people are viewed as a means to an end. Do you want people to volunteer, to tithe, to lead a group? If that’s your only motivation for seeing people plugged into the church, then your motives are not pure and your core group of volunteers will fade.
Our motivation must be to reach people far from God and teach them to follow Jesus step by step. There is no greater step for someone to take, after salvation, than serving because it allows them to perform the role that they were created to by a holy God. This is the church. This is the body of Christ.
(If you’ve enjoyed reading this post, I hope you’ll love my new leadership book The Most Excellent Way to Lead where I talk a lot more about leadership by love. You can visit mostexcellentwaytolead.com to find a retailer near you and get your copy today!)
by Tyler Tatum, New Spring Church
This article was originally published at perrynoble.com/blog/loving-and-leading-volunteers-well on April 11, 2016. Follow Perry Noble on Facebook/nobleperry and Twitter @.