The Key Component in Caring for Volunteers

How you care for your volunteers may be one the single greatest factors in your success or failure as a leader in a church or non-profit organization.

This past Monday I hosted the second #worshipchat Tweetchat and I asked the question, “How has a leader appreciated you, and how has that impacted how you care for volunteers?”

By the end of the evening a root issue had come to the surface.

@joegallo82 and @johnnybeck almost simultaneously said,

I feel most appreciated when a leader shows interest in my personal life.  Not just what I can offer musically

Honestly I wish I could tell you about a time when I was in a rehearsal and I felt like the leader had no interest in my personal life, but I can’t.  Maybe it happened sometime, but I don’t remember it.

What I DO remember is treating my own worship team members that way at one point in time, and I am not proud to say that.

Early in my career as a worship leader I was focused primarily on excellence.  Even though I asked people how they were doing and I cared on a certain level, deep down I was there to deliver a product and not to build them up as people.

The results were challenging.  While I drove the quality up, I was intensifying a culture of perfectionism in a church already tending towards the critical.

The kicker is that I had no idea I was doing this.  I really cared, I thought.

Until a number of years ago when God changed my heart.  Seemingly overnight I felt a change in my focus.  From then on I felt as if my focus was caring for people rather than about the music.  Music became secondary.

I wish I could say it all got very easy.  Not really.

Read my post from last week on personality types and you will see that I am someone who loves detail and excellence.

I still want to do a good job.  I still want to end rehearsal in the middle of the week with something I am not afraid to offer on Sunday.  I will still push my musicians to their best because God deserves our best.

But that is no longer my primary concern. 

People are my primary concern.

We live with people.  We make music with people.  We talk with people.  The only thing we can take with us into the afterlife is . . . people.

So when it comes down to appreciating volunteers, they want to know that they are more important than the eighth note push is the 5th measure of that new song you’re teaching them.

They want to know that when Sunday is done and over you will love them and the service simply because you led worship with them.  They don’t want to be conditionally accepted based on the level of perfection they offered.

@joegallo82 offered the crux of the issue:

you have to realize that they’re not volunteering for you but for the lord.

We are all volunteering for God.  As worship leaders we need to be humble enough to realize that “it’s not all about us.”

So what is the key to appreciating your volunteers?

  • Get your heart right.
  • Put people first.
  • Love God (not music, or whatever you are the leader of) most.

Then you will be on the right track.  In the next post we will talk about some practical steps in appreciating volunteers.

How do you keep your heart right and people first in your ministry?