How to Be a Leader Your Volunteers Will Love

I love being spoiled. My wife has spoiled me for over 30 years. My daughters have spoiled their Dad all their life, and my employees spoil me at the office on a regular basis. Because I like it so much, I want to spoil others. A great goal is to purpose in your heart to spoil your volunteers outside their classrooms as well as in. You’ve heard me say this before: you gain those you serve. It’s a spiritual law. Christ Jesus came to serve not to be served.

Here’s my top 10 list for you to stand out in your church as a leader who serves their volunteers:

1. Return all phone calls and answer all emails quickly. It’s hard to believe that this one step will single-handedly set you apart from most busy leaders in America. It’s also the best way I know to communicate that you care about those who serve you.

When you are at your desk, answer your phone. If you have voice mail, change your message to inform people when you are unable to return their message quickly. Also, if your phone is not answered by a live person, always leave your extension number. When you’re calling others, especially their cell phone, find out whether your telephone call is welcome or intrusive. Always ask if it’s a good time to talk

2. Remember to say please and thank you. These two words are still magic words to cause volunteers to feel appreciated. Always write a personal thank-you note for special favors within two days. When you can, write a personal note when you sign your name on form letters.

3. Never miss a deadline. If it looks like you’re going to be late, negotiate and change it. If you can’t change it, get some help. Never promise performance unless you can deliver. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

4. When you communicate in person, communicate with eye contact. Always look people in the eye. Call your volunteers by name.

5. Solicit criticism and accept it without being defensive. I constantly ask others how we can improve what we do. Smart leaders listen to their volunteers.

6. Repent quickly. Never be afraid of saying “I’m sorry” or I apologize.” Admit any error immediately. Report it to the person who can solve or repair it the fastest.

7. Before beginning any discussion, clearly state the purpose, the desired outcome, and the key objective. Before entering a serious negotiation, decide what you are willing to give up.

8. Keep up to date on the latest technologies. Learn as much as you can on new developments. Supply your volunteers with whatever resources, equipment, and materials they need to excel.

9. Raise everyone’s educational and interest level. Distributing a timely article or clever quotation. Show your volunteers you really care, and buy them a copy of my book, Children’s Ministry Leadership.

10. Don’t plan too many meetings. Use methods of communication other than meetings. Desire to be a family church that allows for family time.  

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Jim Wideman is an internationally recognized voice in children’s and family ministry. He is a much sought after speaker, teacher, author, personal leadership coach, and ministry consultant who has over 30 years experience in helping churches thrive. Jim created the Children’s Ministers Leadership Club in 1995 that is known today as "theClub" which has touched thousands of ministry leaders each month. Jim believes his marching orders are to spend the rest of his life taking what he has learn about leadership and ministry and pour it into the next generation of children’s, youth, and family ministry leaders.