I spent seven years working in a large downtown church where most of my responsibilities included overseeing programs that depended on volunteers. Running Vacation Bible School or Sunday School...directing a choir...organizing worship services...directing a single parents ministry. All of them included hundreds of volunteers throughout a year's time. People's livelihood did not depend on whether or not they showed up or kept volunteering year after year.And yet, for the most part, these people decided to wake up, get dressed, get in their car, and head to their volunteer position at the church. Why? Here are a few thoughts as to how that may have happened:
- they found meaning in what they did
- they believed that what they were doing was important
- they were involved in creating what they were doing
- they were finding friends and a sense of community
- they saw what they did as a calling
- they saw the results of what they did
- they were thanked profusely for their extra time and energy
- they were kept away form the politics and bureaucracy as much as possible
- they were using their specific gifts and talents in their roles
- they - and what they did - were held up as an integral part of the church
- they were celebrated throughout the year
- they were given breaks when needed
As I look around my organization today, I have to ask whether or not those who work here would feel the same way about their jobs. What am I doing to...help people find meaning in their work...remind people that what they do is important...involve people in the creation of the work they do...create a place that is fun and builds relationships...hold up people's jobs as true callings...provide evidence of results...thank people over and over again for their work...run interference for people so they can do their work without hassles...put people in roles that magnify their gifts...tell others how integral these people are to the organization...celebrate the work that is done...give people a time and place to breathe and relax?
I have always loved working with volunteers - whether they receive a paycheck or not. It is my goal that those who work with me will actually CHOOSE every day to get up, get dressed, get in their cars, and head to this place we call Concordia University Texas - and that the choice will be made not because they have to, but because they want to.