When I was in preschool, one of the most coveted toys was a shiny red toy phone (with working rotary dial!). Several of us always rushed to be first to play with it, and of course we’d argue over it… at which point the teacher would remove the desirable object to a high shelf, where none of us got to enjoy it.
One time I was the lucky one who got to the phone first. A classmate was super upset and tried to snatch it away, so I held it above my head where she couldn’t reach it. (Sometimes being the tallest kid in class has its benefits.) Frustrated, she put her hands on her hips and said, “You are so SHELLFISH!” before she stomped off. I won control of the phone, but my satisfaction evaporated pretty quickly. I had no one to play with, except for my “crabby self.”
As a ministry director for our church, I struggle with handing things off. But something lovely happens when I do: People appreciate it, and their enthusiasm is contagious. They get to try something new, or display their God-given talents, and work together on a team. They shine, and inspire others to do the same. And the obvious bonus is there, too: they might take something off my plate, so I can focus on something else!
D.L. Moody said, “It’s better to get ten men to do the work than to do the work of ten men!” To that I say, A-men!
Working with volunteers isn’t always easy, because, well, we’re all people and people are messy sometimes. But it’s worth the effort. Here are some lessons I’ve learned in the years I’ve worked with volunteers:
* They deserve appreciation
* They want buy-in and ownership
* They shouldn’t be given a “life sentence” when they sign up to help
* They may have better ideas than you do
* Give them room to work!
Joyce Meyer says, “Humble people ask for help.” As with all things, this is still a process for me. When I remember to share, I experience so many blessings from having a great team of partners in ministry, and seeing them grow and use their gifts in the way God intended. It sure beats being alone, and “crabby!”
Want to learn more about working with volunteers? Click here.