Every children’s ministry relies on volunteers. I’m always wondering, “How can we invest in these people in ways to bring out their best?” I learned most of what I know from an incredible leader named Kim Gunderson.
Several years ago I was on a children’s ministry team celebrating the 10 year anniversary of one of our staff members, Kim Gunderson. To help the celebration, I was put in charge of creating a video. I interviewed current and past volunteers and asked them to share about Kim and what they remembered most about Kim’s leadership. The answers were so simple and it became clear what Kim had invested, year after year, in her volunteer team: time. Great leaders invest time into their team because they know that time reaps incredible benefits like buy-in, development, and alignment. Do you know how much a phone call matters or a conversation over coffee? Spending your time with your team is one of the best investments you can make into your ministry.
Have you ever worked in a thankless job? Thankless jobs stink. No one likes that job. It’s why I go out of my way to be thanked for every job I do. Just kidding. When you invest appreciation, you are winning your team. Figure out how to appreciate each volunteer you have uniquely and then make it happen.
Volunteers are people. I forget this sometimes. In fact, I’m sorry to admit this but sometimes I only think about volunteers as the slot they fill. When we focus our attention on volunteers as people, we can begin to invest the care they need. Volunteers might need you to listen, provide counsel, pray, visit, or walk with them through a difficult time.
This is the most surprising truth that I learned from Kim’s volunteers. So many of them simply shared, “Kim knew my name” or “Kim asked about my life.” This is a critical investment. Do you know the people you serve with? Are you checking in on their lives, families, work, and interests? The best leaders invest in knowing their team.
Find a group of people laughing and you instantly want to be in on the joke. People genuinely enjoy laughter. Laughter is fun! When leaders laugh, they are experiencing joy and camaraderie. Infuse this into your volunteer team. Make it fun. Make ’em laugh.