Basics are good. More than that, they are necessary. But they are also a stepping stone to something else, something greater.
Challenging, stretching, and growing those we lead is at the core of what we need to be doing.
In ministry, we are in the business of emulation and replication. We do our best to emulate a God of love, grace and peace. All the while, replicating ourselves to try to bring others along with us, in the journey of emulating this God.
If our jobs are to replicate ourselves, then we should be concerned with taking volunteers beyond the basics. Getting a foot in the door is not living the fullest of what can be experienced, and it’s denying others the opportunity to be at their best. Challenging, stretching, and growing those we lead is at the core of what we need to be doing.
So here are a few thoughts on how to stretch your volunteers a little bit and stimulate growth.
1. Let volunteers fail
It will shock no one to hear that volunteers don’t always get it right. We all fail and when we do, it can be embarrassing or even damaging. The goal here is to make sure that volunteers have a chance to fail safely.
You need to find a balance between what you can let slide, and what would be detrimental to your service, but there should be some small ways you can allow volunteers to fail, before stepping in to correct them.
Maybe it’s just during a rehearsal but let them learn by doing.
That includes doing it wrong. Let them see what happens, and what it effects, then talk with them about what they did, and why it was done that way. In the long-term, they will learn it quicker and ultimately retain it longer.
Additionally, as a leader, knowing their process will help you guide them in the future.
2. Let them win
Celebrate them. Always. Celebrate when they get things right and do it often. Do it in the moment and do it after the fact. Remind them that they are important contributors and finally, do it publicly.
Additionally, be sure to credit them for your own successes. Give them a win when you get one too. And while it is important to reinforce the idea that we are “all in this together,” don’t do so at the expense of highlighting someone’s individual contribution. People can feel lost in the group if you do that too often.
Just make sure you do this for everyone. It doesn’t have to be a lot. A little recognition goes a long way. Getting volunteers to want to go beyond basics means stoking the fire and keeping them passionate about what they do.
3. Let them go
Release good volunteers to continue to do good … without you. You may notice that each one of these points has some element of you getting out of the way, and this is the final piece.
Trust them and let them run with things.
Remind them of your support and let them come to you when they need to. This may be more for some people than for others, but lovingly releasing them to continue the work is the greatest success you can have in the process of raising up volunteers.