5 Steps to Inspiring Your Volunteers

Do you want to see your volunteer team more excited, engaged and enthused about the ministry?  Do you want to motivate your volunteers to a higher level?

As a leader, inspiring your volunteers is one of the most important things you can strive for.  Here are 5 steps that can help you inspire them.

Present an inspiring vision.  If you want your volunteers to be inspired, then you have to give them a reason to be inspired.  If you want them to follow you, then you have to present a compelling destination.  The vision should inspire them to reach for something that is bigger than they could have imagined on their own.   

But remember, before you can inspire your volunteers, you must first be inspired.  You must have a vision that causes you to get up the morning excited about what is ahead.  Inspiration can't be taught...it must be caught.

Think through these questions...
  • Do I have an inspiring vision for the ministry? 
  • Have I clearly articulated the vision to my volunteers?
  • Can my volunteers sense that I am excited about the vision?
Connect your volunteers to the vision.  The next step is to connect your volunteers to the vision.  This involves helping volunteers see how the vision gives them the personal opportunity to grow, make an impact and leave a legacy.  Show volunteers how they can use their gifts and talents to help the vision become a reality.

When volunteers see the vision is grounded in the desire to benefit everyone, rather than just the leader, you will get buy in.

Think through these questions...
  • How can I help my volunteers see how the vision will benefit them?
  • How can I help my volunteers see how the vision will benefit others?
  • How can I help volunteers see how they can use their gifts and talents to help the vision become reality?
Move toward the vision together.  Inspiration without action is like riding in one of those toy, stationary cars you find in front of a grocery store.  There's a lot of noise, but you don't actually go anywhere.  Provide steps that will take you to the vision.  Having these steps in place will give your volunteers wins along the way that will keep them inspired.

Think through these questions...
  • What are the clear steps we need to put in place that can help us see the vision fulfilled?
  • How can I clearly communicate the steps to the team?
  • How can I help the team own the steps and achieve the steps?
Encourage and support your volunteers.  Have you ever had a puncture in your car tire that caused it to go flat?  If you want to keep moving forward, you have to get the hole fixed, don't you?  It's the same way with inspiration.  There will be set backs, failures, challenges and "flat tires" along the way.  Be there to "fix the flat" through encouragement and support.  When your volunteers know you've got their back and will be there for them, they will be inspired to keep going, even when they fail.

Think through these questions...
  • Do I encourage my volunteers with my words and actions?
  • Do my volunteers know I've got their back?
  • Are there any "flat tires" right now that need repaired?
Remember inspiration must be ongoing.  Inspiration is not a one and done event.  Inspiration must be sustained.  The initial inspiration must be reinforced along the way.  Inspiration is like a fire.  A fire's natural tendency is to burn out.  It has to be sustained by adding wood, doesn't it?  It's the same way with inspiration.  You must keep it stocked.  This is done by taking people back to the vision on a regular basis.

As the leader, your continued dedication to the vision, hard work on the steps to get there and tenacity will help keep the inspiration alive.  Abraham Lincoln said, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

Think through these questions...
  • How will I sustain the inspiration?
  • How can I be an inspiring example to my team?
  • How often should I revisit the initial source of the inspiration?
Walt Disney was a master at inspiring his team.  Here's an excerpt from the book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry about how he inspired them to move forward with building Disneyland.

“As he stood before the board, he admitted that it was hard for them to envision Disneyland the way he could, but he assured them, ‘There’s nothing like it in the world. I know because I’ve looked.  That’s why it can be great: because it will be unique.  A new concept in entertainment, and I think...I know...it can be a success.’ When he finished there were tears in his eyes.  The members of the board were persuaded.”

Your turn. The floor is yours.  How do you inspire your volunteers?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.