Helping Volunteers Find Their Happy Place

He had signed up to serve in children's ministry.  I was meeting with him to determine what role he would be serving in.  I asked him what role he was interested in.  He said "I see there is an opening in 4th grade boys.  I think I'll serve there."

That sounded great to me.  I knew he could make an impact in the 4th grade boys' lives.  I was ready to say, "That's awesome!  Let's put you in that role."

But I knew I couldn't yet.  First, I had to ask him a question.  A question I asked everyone who signs up to serve.  Here's what I asked him.

"What is your volunteer dream job?  What are you really passionate about?"

He paused and then he said, "Well, to be honest, I love working with older teenagers.  But I see you have the 4th grade boys' role open, so that's where I'll serve."

Everything in me wanted to put him in the role with the 4th grade boys.  It's where I needed someone.  But I knew I couldn't.  I looked at him and said, "As much as I would like to have you serve with the 4th grade boys, I can't.  You need to be in the role you are passionate about.  Let me walk you down to student ministry and introduce you to our high school pastor."

Why would I do that?  Because I had made a commitment to help volunteers find their happy place.

A volunteer finds their happy place when you place them in a role that aligns with their passion, spiritual gifts and personality. 

How do you help a volunteer find their happy place?  Take these steps with each new volunteer.

1. Provide them with a list of all of the serving opportunities.  Give them a week to look over the roles and pray about where they should serve.

2. Sit down with them and ask them the following questions before placing them in a role:
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What are your spiritual gifts?
  • What is your personality type?
  • Have you served in children's ministry before?  If so, what did you enjoy doing?
  • What special gifts or talents do you have?
  • What is your dream volunteer job at church?  If you could serve anywhere, where would that be?
3. Place them in a role that aligns with their answers.

4. If their spiritual gifts or talents don't align with their answer, help guide them.  An example would be someone who wants to lead worship, but can't sing in tune.  This is where you lovingly guide them as a shepherd by providing them training or helping them find a role that fits their giftedness.

5. Give them permission to let you know if they get into a role and find it's not their sweet spot.

6. Take the initiative.  Meet with them one month after they start serving and ask them if they are in their happy place.  If they are not, help guide them into another role.  For some people, they may need to try a few roles before finding their happy place.

As we enlist new volunteers, the temptation is to place them where we need them.  Don't succumb to this. 

Don't place volunteers where you need them.  Place volunteers where they need to be.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will serve with delight rather than just duty.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will go home energized rather than drained.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will thrive.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will make an impact and bear fruit.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, their motivation comes from the inside rather than from the outside.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will be serving with people who have the same passion as they do.

When you place volunteers in their happy place, they will serve for the long haul.

We must remember, serving should be about what we want FOR our volunteers, not what we want FROM our volunteers.

When a volunteer is not placed in their happy place, one of two things happens.  They quit or they continue serving because of their character and commitment...but they serve with little or no joy or fulfillment.  They become demoralized and feel trapped.

Let's be committed to helping volunteers find their happy place.  A happy children's ministry comes from happy volunteers.

You can get more insight and ideas for leading a great volunteer team in my new book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams."  It is available at this link.