Keep Volunteer Workers on the Job


A movement in which churches or cells multiply rapidly must mobilize many volunteer, non-salaried workers. To keep these volunteers encouraged to stay on their job, follow these guidelines:

1.   Show how each project explicitly obeys a specific command of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that volunteers who love Him know they are obeying Him.

2.   Communicate regularly with volunteers, and recognize before everyone the good work that each one has done.

3.   Let volunteers see their progress by showing it on a chart, map or some other means. Faithful volunteers do not need pushing, or having a carrot dangled in front of them; they only need a sense of accomplishment.

4.   Provide tools that workers find easy to use. Volunteers do not appreciate a big, printed manual of instructions. They can learn better from a few minutes’ demonstration that is easy to imitate.

5.   Let volunteers do jobs that fit their spiritual gifting, natural talents and personality types. Some leaders understand gifts and talents, but are unaware of personality traits that influence the way volunteers will want to use their gifts. Here are some traits of four classic, personality types:

  • Spontaneous types who love people keep working as long as they are with people whom they like. Give them jobs that keep them face to face with others. Do not count on them to persevere when there are disputes. However, they need God’s help to keep currently-popular ideas from influencing them too readily.
  • Strong-willed types like to set the pace, pushing others to get tough jobs done. They persevere as long as they can lead and get things done. However, they need God’s help not to bully or to harass others.
  • Steady, plodding types love following a lengthy process, as long as they can see progress. Let them do detailed work. However, they need God’s help to make needed change.
  • Contemplative types think and talk about long-range aims, ethical aspects and trends. They persevere when they agree with a project’s long-range values, and will apply their creativity to help steer the course. However, they need God’s help to focus on the small, but vital, steps.
  • Blended types see the big picture and like to coordinate a project, but they overwork themselves because of their broad interests. Let them deal with variety and difficult issues, while keeping them focused on primary objectives.

6.   Avoid over-emphasizing “highest standards of excellence,” as though only highly-trained professionals could lead projects. Remember, ordinary mortals can serve Jesus in a serious way, will do 99% of the work in a large movement.

7.   Let volunteers with different gifts work closely together as a body, in selfless love. Review the entirety of the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 13.

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