Read These 5 Suggestions Before Volunteering
Jay Martinez wrote a great piece about millennials being ready to make a difference. Check it out here. He pointed out that millennials are willing to step up when the church invests in them. Are you ready?
The Good News
So you might have been approached by someone in the church asking to volunteer or help out in some capacity. Chances are you’re feeling excited and believe you’re ready to make the jump and volunteer.
Congrats! Let me share 5 suggestions that will allow you to enjoy ministry to its fullest and at the same time prevent you from experiencing burning out. Yes, volunteers will at some point feel overwhelmed and burned out.
Your volunteering metamorphosis will unfold in the following pattern. The person who asked you to volunteer will be very helpful in providing direction and guidance. After a while you will begin to wonder, “Where is all the help!” The person who asked you to volunteer will have probably been burned out themselves. The freshly recruited volunteer, YOU, is the getaway opportunity they saw and took. Remember this is not a reflection on their spiritual maturity so don’t be to harsh when left alone wondering where to go now.
Here are 5 Suggestions You Can Start to Practice Before Volunteering
1. Take your time
I’m often in awe of those individuals that join a church and can immediately plug in to a ministry and they excel at it! Others will jump into as many opportunities as asked to and unfortunately for both, the church and the volunteer, they will slowly start to fade. They will start to be absentee in their ministry and eventually their church attendance will suffer. The church body would rather see you in the seats, listening and growing, rather than not attending at all. On the flip side, if you have been in church for several years you’ve had plenty of time 🙂
2. Don’t accept every request
Don’t rush into everything and anything that you are asked to do. Remember, you have an idea of what needs your time and by taking extra opportunities you will be stretched too thin. Out of all your priorities one will suffer and more often the ministry will be left unattended. This will be a good time to evaluate your priorities and shed those time-consuming affairs. Those that don’t add any value.
3. Ask for Help
When suddenly you are left alone with a roomful of loving kiddos you need to ask for help. Don’t let this fester and bring it to the attention of your ministry leaders. The last thing any church parents want is the kid’s ministry to become a Sunday daycare.
4. Set boundaries
Not sure about your spiritual gifts? Churches offer spiritual gifts sessions and those are great. I believe in application as well and you might want to try out different opportunities to explore those gifts. If you decide to do this I strongly encourage you to set boundaries. For example you can say, “ I plan to serve in this capacity for 6 months” or “ I can only serve 1 Sunday a month”, etc. You set the time-frame. This will allow the seeker to plan accordingly.
5. It’s ok to say no
Hear me on this- You can say no and it is perfectly fine! I understand you don’t like to disappoint but master this pointer and you’ll be spectacular . No one will be offended if you say no. They will respect that you value your time and theirs. You may not be ready and it’s ok to voice that. Leave yourself an opening if that is an area that interests you.
Summary of the 5 Suggestions I shared for a successful volunteer career
- Take your time
- Don’t accept every request
- Ask for Help
- Set Boundaries
- It’s Ok to say No
These suggestions came at my expense and at the disappointment of others. I felt obligated to help out as much as possible and the time requirements took their toll on me. It wasn’t until later in my spiritual walk that I learned how to kindly and respectfully decline volunteer opportunities. I shared the suggestions to encourage you to get involve and go about it in a strategic manner.
I’ll leave you with the following comment:
Be a specialist and not a generalist. Be spectacular and caring in one ministry rather than general and unspectacular in many.