I don’t believe for a minute that any, kindhearted, loving children’s leader would ever intentionally hurt a volunteer’s feelings but sometimes it does happen. Often, it’s an offhand remark or a negative response that causes the friction. Regular volunteers know when you are teasing and when you’re not but the new guy hasn’t quite figured it out.
Guess what? The onus isn’t on the newbie volunteer–it’s on the leader. We really do need to watch our words, especially when we position ourselves to mentor and guide potential leaders in our church. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to do. Get started today by reviewing this handy list.
- “Here–you teach today!” You’ve noticed how great your new volunteer is with the kids. She’s also got a great grasp on today’s bible lesson–shouldn’t she teach. Nope. Unlike you and I, most people aren’t comfortable speaking to groups, even groups of kids. Please don’t ask your volunteer to teach without proper notice–and a willing heart.
- “I’m not going to make it. Let’s cancel.” You’re feeling sick and won’t make it to class. Should your volunteer stay home too? No, of course not. Instead of calling your volunteer at the last-minute, let him know well in advance that a substitute will be filling in for you. The “show” must go on!
- “That parent/grandparent/child drives me crazy.” No matter how true it may be, never say it. If you need to air your feelings to someone, always go “up.” Don’t share your ministry’s issues/dirty laundry with new folks.
- “You stay with little Priscilla today.” You have a child who demands your time and attention, even in the middle of a lesson. Out of frustration you ask your volunteer to keep the child company during the class. That’s okay for a few minutes but the whole class? You can’t call in a “babysitter” just because you don’t want to deal with a child who has issues. You’ve got to “man up” spiritually speaking, on this one.
- “Our new helper will lead today’s prayer.” Like the teaching request, volunteers need a heads-up before you volunteer them for something prayer.
- “That’s not how we do that.” Be open to trying new things. If you don’t like the way the volunteer handled a situation or set up her station, talk to her (coach her) privately.
- “You’re completely wrong.” She finally mustered up the courage to tell a bible story but instead of Noah building the ark, she said, “Moses built the ark.” Never shout out, “That’s wrong!” You can always laugh about it together later.
- “You can’t be absent–I need you.” It’s probably true but you shouldn’t say it. Your newbie volunteer is an asset but if you put too much pressure on beginners, you could send them running the other way. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on your team members.
- “We can’t use your gifts/talents.” I’m absolutely positive you would never say this but sometimes our actions do say just that. Help your volunteer find ways to use their unique gifts in the children’s ministry. You’ll be glad you did.
- “I won’t invest in you.” Here’s something you should say–“I want to invest in your future in kids ministry!” Offer to pay for a kids min conference or send him a surprise subscription to your favorite ministry magazine. Encouragement is a language we should always speak!
Read more from Mimi by following her blog at Tools for Kids Church.