I was feeding my 10-month old daughter her morning bottle and I was enjoying watching her eat. She was resting in my arms just being cared for. When I wake her in the morning, she always lifts her arms up to be carried and cared for. She knows that I’m there to make sure her needs are met, because she is totally dependent at this age. She knows the people in her life that care for her. How do I know this? Because she reaches for those that care for her and fulfill her needs. Mainly, me as her father, my wife as her mother, and my mother-in-law. My daughter is not shy by any means, but she literally reaches out to those that care for her.
I couldn’t help but think that this is exactly how those we lead respond to us. There are many volunteers and ministry staff that I work with on a consistent basis. Part of leading means making sure that they know I care for them and can take care of their needs. Not their biological needs, like my daughter (although food at meetings is always a good thing!). But maybe their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. I always love John Maxwell’s quote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” It’s true.
How do I translate that into practice? How do I let them know I care for them? There are multiple ways to care for those that volunteer with me. I’m just going to list a few ideas that I (or should) practice.
- Write thank you notes (hand written is preferred, and my handwriting is terrible!)
- Provide prayer and retreat experiences: too often, I ask people to serve and volunteer without allowing time for their own spiritual growth.
- Ask questions about the things they care about most: their family, hobbies, work, etc. What makes them tick? Find out about them.
- Find out what motivates them to serve in ministry. Once I find this out, I can constantly come back to this motivation when their energy to serve and is low.
- Be encouraging. How can I genuinely affirm them for their gifts and strengths? This is a fun challenge for me, because I know that if I can discover their strengths, I’m going to be able to put them in ministry roles that fulfill them. In turn, they will be more effective volunteers.
What else can we do as ministers to let those that volunteer with us know that we care for them? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m interested to learn more ideas.