“People are an appreciating asset only if we are willing to invest in them.” –John C. Maxwell
In our series on recruiting, training, and sustaining volunteer ministers, we are now moving into the training phase.
When it comes to bringing volunteers on our ministry team, we must invest in them so that they can become a great team member for the ministry. Yet, it is much more difficult to invest in your volunteers then just doing the job yourself. That certainly begs the question of why we would train anyone in the first place. The answer is quite simple:
I can’t do it all myself…
Many people can do the job better than me!
Investing in and training our team of volunteers (or staff) takes intentional time and effort. I can’t just bring them on the team and expect them to thrive without any help from me. I’ve tried it. It doesn’t work.
Here are some principles that help when it comes to training the team.
1. We must be situational in our leadership.
I have written on situational leadership before, and it is worth repeating here. Every volunteer that comes into our ministry has different skills, strengths, and experiences. They require a different leadership style from me as the leader. When a volunteer is just starting, they require me to be very directive. Four words can be used to define directive behavior: structure, organize, teach, and supervise. As time goes on and they become more familiar with their role, the need for directive behavior decreases. Often, directive behavior must change to supportive behavior. Five words are used to describe supportive behavior: praise, listen, ask, explain, and facilitate. In any given team, you may have a couple volunteers that need you to be directive and a couple that need you to be supportive. It just depends on the situation. Naming early on what a volunteer needs from you allows you to begin to create a training road map that will help them grow.
2. Never punish a learner.
When a team member is learning the ministry role, we have to give them some room to grow and make mistakes. Creating an environment where it is safe to fail and learn from that failure is important. Failure is one of the best training tools there is out there. Use the experience to instruct and teach, not reprimand and punish.
3. Don’t set high expectations.
Okay, that sounds a little weird to say. It seems to fly in the face of what leadership is about. We should expect a lot from our volunteers. It is not about setting high expectations. It’s about setting right expectations. The right expectations can be different for each member of the team.
In the end, a one-size-fits-all style of leadership never works. We must train and equip our team in different ways. This is why it can be a challenge to do. When we unleash the giftedness and strength of our team, great things happen for the Kingdom of God. And, in the end, the ministry grows and expands in ways that you could never imagine.
Name a time when you have been punished as a learner. What was your reaction to that experience?