Sunday, January 19, 2014

Job vs. Ministry: Volunteer Appreciation, Recognition & Encouragement Idea

I have been digging deep into the recesses of our filing cabinets finding hidden treasure. Oh, okay, most of it could probably be filed in the trash bin now. Still, in one particular drawer I have uncovered quite a few folders containing sweet memories of passions that have been buried over time, along with a scattering of successfully completed events that we hoped to be inspired by to re-create one day in the future. 

I figured by increasing my posts I could decrease my paper clutter. So, here I am tossing out one of the many Ministry Inspiration Folders onto the web. 

Over the years my husband and I have been what some might call "Leaders of Leaders". Our main ministry has been helping to encourage and lead people who are diving heart first into the areas God is calling them to serve.  It is so exciting to be a part of that process, being on the front lines watching this newly found passion find it's feet to start running. 

At the same time there is another part of ministry we have enjoyed just as much, or possibly even more. That part would be helping leaders who feel dull, unmotivated and lost rekindle the flame of serving with the passion that once lit up their hearts. There is something so tender, vulnerable and uplifting in watching someone go from feeling discouraged & unusable to uncovering the truth that they have a beautiful offering just waiting to bestow.  

The main area of ministry my husband and I have served in together over the last 20 years is in the Awana Children's Ministry with 75 leaders, in the last 5 years we have also added International Missions. Sprinkle in MOPS, Marriage, Men's and Women's Ministry and we have quite a collection. 

No matter the areas all leaders need to be reminded often of their purpose & their value. Without the heart of the ministry as the focus the many tasks to check off in ministry can become the driving force.  With eyes focused on the tasks it seems like the blink of an eye before most leaders begin to feel the weight of burnout upon their shoulders. It isn't long until their eyes have completed shifted to the illuminated EXIT sign above the door - eagerly anticipating their departure.  

So, where do we find the blinders that keep their eyes fixed in the right direction? The answer is, we don't. It has to be born out of the hand and heart of our loving Father in order to be authentic. You can, however, encourage them greatly by frequently reminding them of WHO they are serving, WHY they are serving and WHERE they should be fixing their eyes. 

A few years ago I found this poem and decided to create a Volunteer Appreciation around it. 

It is hard to read in the picture, so here it is:

Some people have a JOB in the church.

Others involve themselves in a MINISTRY.
What's the difference?

If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a JOB.
If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a MINISTRY.

If you quit because somebody criticized you, it was a JOB.
If you keep on serving, it's a MINISTRY.

If you'll do it only if it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a JOB.
If you are committed to staying with it even when it means letting go of other things, it's a MINISTRY.

If you quit because no one praised you or thanked you, it was a JOB.
If you stay with it even though nobody recognizes your efforts, it is a MINISTRY.

It's hard to get excited about a JOB.
It's almost impossible not to be excited about a MINISTRY.

If our concern is success, it's a JOB.
If our concern is faithfulness, it's a MINISTRY.

An average church is filled with people doing JOBS.
A great and growing church is filled with people involved in MINISTRY.

Where do we fit in?
What about us?

If God calls you to a MINISTRY, don't treat it like a JOB.
If you have a JOB, give it up and find a MINISTRY.

God does not want us feeling stuck with a JOB,
But excited and faithful to Him in a MINISTRY.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5 : 16-18)

How did we use this in our ministry you ask? 

Our event was a total surprise to our volunteers. Since gathering them all together on one day, in one place can be quite a feat we challenged  ourselves to find a way we could get to them on a club night. We DID IT! When our leaders stepped into their designated area to work with the kids we announced we needed them in the other room. {We decided to bring in some temporary volunteers to run our game time.} They were a bit bewildered but as they walked into this serene, beautifully lit up room they were greatly surprised and honored to see we had something special in store for them. EVERYONE was able to participate and feel blessed at some phase through the night.

For decor we had decked out one of our rooms all things Valentine's Day (it was a few days prior to the actual day). We had dessert, candles and cards on the tables, along with the sheet comparing Ministry to a Job.  

In addition we wanted to give them an opportunity to spur their own memories of why they volunteer and give them an opportunity to encourage others. We gave them a cute little sheet of paper to journal a special story of something that impacted their hearts in the time they had been volunteering.  They would then turn the sheets in with the intended purpose that we would be able to share these stories with all of the leaders. Stories are POWERFUL - they are reminders that we are a part of a bigger picture. The part we play impacts others...always. Sometimes we get so busy we forget the simplicity of a story. 

This was a pretty simple and meaningful way to reach our leaders with a loving reminder of their importance. They were in the middle of it, so the ministry was fresh on their brains. It was a beautiful thing. 

Sometimes there just aren't options to pull something like this off. That's okay - pray. The very, most POWERFUL thing you can do for your leaders, EVER,  is to pray for them. God will give you the vision and heart to know how to encourage them. God is the all-knowing KING of CREATIVITY! 

-Simply Sublime

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