Are you ineffective with volunteers? Here’s why I was…
I remember THE MOMENT when I realized how ineffective I was with volunteers in my second year on staff with Youth for Christ. I was really beginning to hit my stride in my job as City Life Staff. I spent hours and hours with middle school and high school kids. We went on great trips and camps and kids were coming to the Lord. I prayed for those kids and led bible studies.
With all this activity, I was sooooo tired! I felt such a burden for each and every kid of the 1,500 young people in my neighborhood, but I felt like I wasn’t ever going to build something that had a long term impact—something that left a legacy after I was gone.
I told my supervisor how I was feeling. I was working so hard, with no real hope of impacting a community for Christ. And isn’t that the goal of City Life? He sat me down and we reviewed my time sheets for the past month. We totaled up the hours I had spent with kids and the hours that I had spent with volunteers. I had spent almost 100 hours with students and just 3 measly hours either talking to/training/meeting with or praying for volunteers! I was shocked. No wonder I was so tired!
I really had a heart to heart with the Lord about this issue. I knew that I was working myself at a burn out pace, not just because I was working a lot, but because I was working alone. This is not how God intends us to work. He intends us to work as part of his body (Ephesians 4:1-16). It sets a bad example for the teens and makes winning students to the Lord even harder because they miss out on the witness of the love of the believers for each other. (John 13:35)
I wanted to change my schedule and the way that I was working, but I had to first confront some brutal facts about myself as a YFC worker.
- I was a “student” person and not an “adult” person and I had to learn how to work and communicate effectively with adults.
- I had a lot of identity wrapped up in my role as a YFC staff person and therefore had a lot of insecurity about training volunteers to excel in teen ministry.
- I had a lot of pride in myself and thinking that I wanted to all of this ministry work for myself because I thought I was the best at it!
- I had to be willing to experience the pain of giving up time with students to invest in the lives of my volunteers to know them and love them. I needed to develop a love for my volunteers like the love I had for the students.
Boy, am I glad that the Lord helped me face these facts! Now I am celebrating my 12th year in the ministry! (That would have never happened in my previous pace.) Not only that, but the Lord has brought up a great team around the City Life ministry in central Ohio. The ministry wouldn't be what it is without them!
What about you? Have you ever had to face the hard facts about yourself when it comes to empowering volunteers for effective ministry? How have you dealt with those hard truths?