Aretha Franklin sang about it: RESPECT but it’s not always easy to gain the respect of the people you work with. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting or needing their respect and support. Otherwise, its easy to feel as if you’re like a handy old shoe that people grab when they want to smash a bug–or constantly call upon to fill in for an absent teacher. Nobody wants to feel like a doormat. So how do you gain the respect of the people you volunteer with?
First, look at the reasons why respect might be lacking. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes it does. Let’s start with the things that are within our control. Perhaps you’ve been too accommodating in the past. Perhaps you’re one of those people that just can’t say no. You want to continue the work of the Lord and are willing to do whatever it takes to minister to the church. It’s a noble thought but you know what they say, “Even the noblest intentions…”
Perhaps you’ve been too accommodating in the past. Perhaps you’re one of those people that just can’t say no. You work yourself to death, feel stressed out over ministry because you want to continue the work of the Lord and are willing to do whatever it takes to minister to the church. But that dedication and availability isn’t always appreciated.
The solution? You have to change the way you think about yourself and then you can change the way others think about you. Or at least how they treat you. You have to value your own time, your own gifts before others do the same. Take a hard look at your calendar. When are you available to help, really? We all have limits, we all need time off. Decide when you can help and then establish those parameters with whoever does the scheduling. You might say to yourself, “I can help the first and third Wednesdays of the month,” or “Volunteering the last Sunday of the month is best for me.” It might be good to create an email or meet individuals responsible for scheduling face-to-face. Be kind. Have love. But don’t back down. I know it’s hard. But if you want to shake off that doormat feeling you’re gonna have to do it.
An email could sound something like this, “Hi Bill, I’m doing some restructuring in my ministry and I’ve had to make a few changes on availability. I’m now available at this time. I look forward to helping in children’s ministry again soon. Thanks so much.” That wasn’t hard, was it? Well, maybe it was but it will be worth it. And about the face-to-face conversations–don’t get mired in the weeds and don’t backpedal. And don’t apologize for setting boundaries.
Find someone to talk to–I suggest talking to someone outside of your immediate circle of friends or ministry. Perhaps an independent Christian counselor or someone who is not working closely with you.
If all you need is someone to listen to you, you might find journal writing helpful. Again, be honest and get those feelings down on paper. I also find talking into a digital recorder very therapeutic even if I then delete the files afterwards.
Most of the time, when people treat us like doormats it’s because we’ve allowed them to do so. Stop saying things like, “You can call me anytime.” Let’s face it, if a friend or fellow minister had an emergency we’d be there but not everything is an emergency. Take those Sunday morning phone calls for example, “Hi Joe! I got an emergency. Bob can’t teach class today. I need you to fill in.” Nevermind that you were looking forward to the pastor’s message on the book of Daniel tonight. Technically that’s a non-emergency or at least not your
Take those Sunday morning phone calls for example, “Hi Joe! I got an emergency. Bob can’t teach class today. I need you to fill in.” Nevermind that you were looking forward to the pastor’s message on the book of Daniel. Technically, subsitituing for another teacher is a non-emergency at least that’s not your emergency. I know it sounds harsh but you have to set boundaries for yourself. Don’t put yourself at the beck and call of anyone who needs you.
You can do it! You deserve respect!
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