Supporting Your Volunteers
This past spring, in southern Ohio was something to reckon with. We had such a huge swing back and forth of warm and freezing temperatures. I wore flip flops on a Tuesday and then brought out my winter coat from the closet on Thursday. Though the weather felt like an amusement park ride versus entry into spring, there is one thing for certain: the seasons will change.
Eventually the winter coats were able to go back into the coat closet and were replaced with lightweight sweaters. The same can be said about the seasons in ministry while working with volunteers. Just like our seasonal patterns, individuals who serve in our ministries also go through changes in their lives. Whether we like it or not, the outside world influences how our volunteers deal with serving in our churches. If they are in a tough season of life, whether it’s a stressful work situation, marriage issues, or even just a busy sport season for their kids, their serving on our teams will be affected. For long term volunteers, it might even be a somewhat predictable pattern in their lives.
If you find yourself in a season like this with one of your team members, here are a few simple ways we, as leaders, can support them as they walk through it.
Give Them Space
If it seems like serving on your team has become a chore or even a burden for your volunteer, have a conversation with them about their serving schedule. Do they serve every weekend? What would it look like for them to take off a Sunday once a month? Where can you make room for them to have time to rest? Sometimes, a volunteer will need to take a complete break from the team for a certain length of time. It may create a burden for you temporarily, but the health of your team member is far more important than filling their spot on a Sunday morning.
Be a Listening Ear
Don’t just ask how things are going- listen! Too often, we inquire as to how someone is coping but we don’t take time to hear what they say. Sit down before or after a rehearsal and just listen. They might not need advice, they simply might need to vent frustration and know that someone cares about the stress they are going through.
Pray WITH Them
Before each rehearsal for our worship team, we take time to share what’s going on in our lives and how we could use prayer. This allows for us to hear what needs there are but most importantly, it gives up the opportunity to pray together. The most important way you can support your volunteers is to pray with them.
If you have been in ministry for any length of time, you know that there are times when you will receive the blunt end of someone’s frustrations. We need to understand that as easy as it is to get offended when someone is having an issue, it’s not always about us. It might be just an overflow from what they have been dealing with in their family or at work. Always evaluate issues that are brought up by a volunteer but also keep in mind that emotions may be more sensitive due to what they are dealing with and it could be that there is sometime much deeper going on.
Working with volunteers can be challenging as you walk through seasons of their lives, but it’s also a tremendous blessing! Be there for them, be willing to make adjustments when needed and most of all pray for them. Not only will your volunteers grow and benefit personally, but the health of your team will flourish as you make every effort to care for them as their leader.