When we moved into our new home, we made cutting the grass our oldest son Cade’s responsibility. He mowed periodically at our old home, but when we moved in here, it became his responsibility, his to own. The other day I asked him to mow the front yard. Later in the day he looked out the back window and said, “Dad, I think the back yard needs to be mowed, too.” I couldn’t help but smile as I looked out and saw grass I wouldn’t have to mow, that didn’t really need to be mowed. I was very happy to be able to come home from work and not have to do lawn care, but what overjoyed me was seeing him own it. I won’t pretend he cares more about it than I do, but he truly has started to take some ownership.
A few months back I posted about 4 Influencer Imperatives in Small Group Leadership drawn from Bill Hybels’s 2005 Global Leadership Summit address, “These Things We Must Do.” Last month we narrowed down on the first of the four: Vision: Five Fundamentals for Keeping it Clear. This time we’ll look at the next Influencer Imperative: Keep the people engaged. Volunteer engagement is one of the most important things we can do as church leaders.
Keys for keeping the people engaged:
- Enlisted: Engagement starts with enlisting. Enlist volunteers with an inspiring vision, with real need, to create buy-in. Enlisted volunteers begin to see what could be and are inspired that they can be a part to make a difference. When we moved in, I enlisted Cade to take ownership in the upkeep of our home. He began to see how his part could actually play into a bigger picture. It’s the same with engaged volunteers, they are inspired with a vision, where they can play a part.
- Employed: Volunteers that are engaged are actively employed with purposeful work. That means they have something to do and not just busy work, something that makes a meaningful contribution to the overall effort. The worst thing that can happen for an enlisted volunteer is fail to be employed with something of consequence.
- Empowered: Engaged volunteers are empowered to make a difference. That means they have the tools, equipment, training, encouragement, everything they need to accomplish what they have been enlisted to do. Once Cade was onboard to make his contribution, it was my responsibility to empower him so that he remains engaged. That means I must empower him to accomplish his part by ensuring he has a working mower, that he understands what is wanted and how to accomplish it. As he is working, it is my responsibility to encourage and appreciate him, and when something doesn’t work, I empower him by helping right the course.
It’s simple to mobilize engaged volunteers, but it’s not easy. As leaders it’s on us to enlist, employ and empower volunteers to a compelling vision.