Managing vs. Shepherding Your Volunteers

We’ve been chatting a lot around the office lately about how God uses children’s ministry leaders in the lives of their volunteer teams.

You hold such a critical role in the discipleship of kids AND your team.

I remember when I was a wide-eyed, newly hired Children’s Director. I felt energized and prepared to do so much (create a safe and engaging environment, choose a curriculum, intentionally engage with parents and families). However, I quickly recognized that I was struggling to lead my team of volunteers.

The biggest lesson I learned was that I had to switch my mentality from managing my volunteers to shepherding them through the example of Jesus and his servant leadership.

It changed my entire approach! Instead of me telling them how we could improve, we crafted a mission statement and let our mission drive our ministry.

The shift from managing volunteers to shepherding volunteers starts with simple acts. Here are a few tips to help you shepherd your volunteers:

  • Care for and prioritize their spiritual walk. Invite a key volunteer to coffee and ask them what God has been teaching them lately. Prioritize their need for spiritual growth by allowing opportunity in their schedule to attend a service!
  • Recognize their involvement and sacrifices. Send them a hand written thank you card. Thank them for a specific way they made a difference that day. Let them know that you see them and the way they are impacting the kids in your ministry!
  • Invest in a relationship with them outside of the need they fill for you. Get to know them! Send them an encouraging text. Eat a meal together. Find out what is important to them (like their child’s baseball game) and make space to participate in those things.

Try not to overanalyze and complicate what this process looks like! However God leads you to shepherd your team, know that you’ve got the perfect example in Jesus. Study the ways He led His disciples, and ask the Lord for humility and strength as you serve under His leadership.

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