Mar 7, 2012

11 Keys to Effectively Leading Volunteers

“To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate …When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!”

Key #1 – Lead by serving. The Bible reminds us in Matthew 23 that effective leadership is found in serving others. Great leadership is not measured by how many people are serving you, but instead by how many people you are serving. 

Key #2 - Lead by relationship. People do not follow a title. They follow someone they love and respect. This does not happen overnight, but as you take time to build relationships with people. 

Key #3 - Lead by following. To be an effective leader, you must first be an effectively follower. This means following the vision and direction of the Pastor and church you serve. This means not becoming a ministry silo, but instead coordinating with the other ministries in your church.

Key #4 - Lead by encouraging.
65% of workers say they have received no recognition or appreciation in the past 12 months. Be an intentional encourager. Walk around and personally thank your volunteers each week for serving. Keep a stack of note cards by your desk and discipline yourself to write thank you notes regularly. 

Key #5 - Lead by learning.
Effective leaders are always in school. They listen to their volunteers. They ask their volunteers for input and feedback.

Key #6 - Lead by equipping.
An effective leader is an equipper. They realize their priority is to equip volunteers for the work of the ministry and they are constantly helping others reach their potential. They pour into others instead of trying to do everything themselves. They can step back into the shadows and everything will run smoothly without them.

Key #7 - Lead by praying.
Nothing of eternal value is ever accomplished without prayer. Let your public leadership be a reflection of the private time you spend in prayer. 

Key #8 - Lead by growing spiritually.
You cannot take people where you have not been. An effective leader has a growing relationship with Jesus. This includes spending time in God’s Word on a daily basis. Each week you should have a fresh truth from God’s Word to share with your volunteers. 

Key #9 - Lead by having character.
Character means keeping your word and delivering on what you promise. It means having integrity and honesty. It means being trustworthy and reliable.

Key #10 – Lead by putting others in the spotlight.
They would rather see their volunteers shine than themselves. They are quick to give others the credit for the victory and quick to take the blame for failure. 

Key #11 – Lead by humility.
The Bible reminds us again in Matthew 23 that an effective leader is someone who is humble. If you think you’re a great leader…then you’re not. Pride will drive away volunteers, while humility will attract them.

I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of work to do in all of these areas. Let’s strive to become more effective leaders for Christ.

Posted by Dale Hudson


What are some of the steps that we can follow as leaders in going from 1. Recognizing a person is gifted and capable in ministry to the end result of a good, solid, responsible for much key leader in our ministry. What does that process look like and how can we as leaders be intentional in walking with our folks along in that process?

Ha...thanks Julie. It was supposed to be 11. I'll change the title. Better yet...what are your thoughts? What do you think number 12 should be?

Great question Jeremy, here is what I do.
I look for volunteers with leadership potential. People I think already do or have the potential to embody our leadership DNA. I begin to invest in them individually. I then begin to give them more leadership responsibility. As they are faithful with a little I give them more. This includes beginning to lead other volunteers. We recently started a leadership "school" for volunteers we want to see become leaders of leaders. It meets on Thurs. nights. It is by invitation only. A great example is Tina. She started out as a mom volunteering. We saw potential in her and through this process she is now on staff leading one of our 1-3rd grade environments.

I think it's a pretty good list. About the only aspect I would add is to be a balanced leader. Besides working hard, we need to make sure we are resting and having fun. Nothing like a good time to bind a team together! ;-)

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