by Gabriel Morton
When blogging about a book, especially only one chapter, you have two options: give a summary, or tell how you apply it in your life. This will be (mostly) the latter.
So far we’ve talked about a lot. From the cost of a servolution (your time, among other things), staying on course (learning when to say no), and finding a need to fill (sometimes in your own backyard). This chapter is a call to pastors everywhere – don’t just get your people involved, but appreciate them for it!
Maybe you’ve experienced this – you give up a hard-earned Saturday morning to do some volunteer work with your church. You show up on time, if not early, and things are a mess. No one is really sure where you can serve, so you get tossed into a menial task you just don’t care for. You know that you could be more effective doing something else, but you just grit your teeth and say to yourself “it’s for the kingdom.”
As the work shift comes to a close, the leader seems preoccupied with making sure all materials loaned out get returned. You drive home, but stop at a fast food restaurant for lunch because it was either missing or coming late at the site.
Don’t mistake me for being bitter. Really, I’m not. I wish I could tell you that this story was fiction. It’s not (okay, maybe a little – it was a Sunday afternoon, not a Saturday morning). The key – making sure your volunteers go home with a big “thank you” feeling in their hearts.
Not all churches are like the one I mentioned. I’ve had the privilege of volunteering with my home church back in the US – LifeChurch.tv – and I must say that every time I served, no matter how small or large, someone always said “thank you.” I remember my last week at LifeChurchbefore moving to Indonesia. To my surprise, I opened the room where we kept the things we needed to serve, and WOW – it was decorated just like a birthday party – photos taken over the last year were printed and hung – there was even a cake! They threw a going away party, just for me. I will always remember how much I was appreciated serving as part of the team at LifeChurch.
But where does that leave you? Does that mean you have to do buy a cake every week and find a reason to celebrate? Maybe not. Start small. Dino outlined a few key points – great each one with a warm welcome, acknowledge their sacrifice of time and energy, don’t waste their time – make sure every serving opportunity is well planned, and thank each volunteer before they leave – thanking them for their specific contribution. He listed several other great ideas – ways of saying thank you publicly, for example, but these were the most personal. If people don’t get the one-on-one appreciation, they won’t care about the appreciation in front of the masses.
Dino listed a few other points about how everyone has something to offer, serving helps you overcome past hurt, and that there is a place for everyone. These are all true. It is also true that serving through tough times builds camaraderie. Dino expounds on these points, and I recommend you take the time to read through the chapter in full. But without that feeling of being appreciated, volunteers will walk away. No matter how great the fit, the easiest way to lose volunteers is to forget a simple “thank you.”
Appreciation builds loyalty. Not just any kind – but the kind that multiplies. People naturally want to bring others to share in the appreciation. It happened in the early church. People were thanked and it gave them the endurance to face tough times. Most every letter Paul wrote ended in some variation of “I thank God for you and all the things you do.” Wow – he didn’t just say thank you – he got God involved! Its like he was saying “Thank you, God, for creating this person just the way they are! Thank you for the talents you gave them that they can use to serve you, God!” He was publicly thanking not only the person, but the creator of the person. That’s one heck of a thank you!
Take a moment now, and think about how you can thank those in your life. For pastors, this will be your congregation and volunteers. Business owners and managers: your staff. For others, let’s see who in our lives we can appreciate. Even if it’s just the clerk behind the gas station counter, let’s start saying “thank you.” When we do, we’ll see God open doors for sharing His love with others.
That said, THANK YOU for reading! 😉
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About the contributor:
Gabriel Morton is a husband, father, teacher, and youth pastor. His passion is changed lives. He loves it when he sees churches uniting in spreading the message of Christ’s love across the Globe. Want some mental floss? Check out his blog Christ in 3D.