I had lunch today with a long-term youth ministry friend who is struggling at his church. Long story short, he doesn’t feel valued. Sadly, this friend isn’t alone.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this concept of value. Value is so very important to the health of individuals and the success of organizations/ministries! It’s been my belief that most people don’t leave ministries, they leave leaders. Typically, they leave leaders who don’t express value.

If you’re a senior pastor, a boss, a ministry leader, someone who oversees volunteers, or simply a human being who wants to be better at valuing others, here are 7 specific ways to value others.

1. Genuinely care for more than what they can offer you and/or your organization
Many leaders view at people as assets. They relate to people in terms of “what they do for me.” While it may be natural and typical for an employee/employer relationship, it’s not beneficial. Value is communicated when you genuinely care for people as human beings and not human doings (and what they can do for you to help you build your kingdom).

2. Give feedback
As a leader, your constructive feedback is vital to an individual feeling valued. Most followers are desperate for validation and they want to be recognized for their contribution. They’ll follow, work and give their heart if they feel like they’re following someone who cares enough about them to give them feedback about their contribution. When you take the time to give specific feedback (even if it’s occasional negative/constructive), you are adding to their personal sense of value. It’s not unusual for a person to work for, serve, volunteer years of service and not get any specific and personal feedback from their “boss”…it’s not unusual, but it’s definitely tragic.

3. Affirm, affirm, affirm
This should go without saying, and unfortunately, many times it does. I know leaders will say, “He knows he’s important to me.” Really? When was the last time you told him? It ought to be often! This is such a basic principle that it’s almost embarrassing to write, but I find it so rare in leaders that it’s worth mentioning and repeating.

4. Take interest in their interests
I have a friend who has worked for and traveled with his boss for several years and his boss never asks him personal questions. My friend said, “You’ve asked me more about myself during this lunch than he’s (my boss) asked me in 5 years.” Sad. If I know you’re interested in me, and I know you care (see #1), then I know that I’m more than a pawn in your strategy to move forward. Your interest beyond “the job” communicates value.

5. Do the “little things”
The people who work for and/or serve you (or your ministry) have real lives outside of the “job”. When you acknowledge that reality you communicate value. It’s the little things that send a big message: a card on their birthday, remembering their kids’ names, sending the spouse a gift (flowers or gift certificate) when you’ve asked ‘above and beyond’ from their spouse, an invite to share a meal with no-agenda, an occasional “I appreciate you” letter/gift, etc… Little actions are a big deal!

6. Give them access to your life
All of these ideas communicate something more than an employer/employee relationship. Typically, those who follow you, if they feel cared for by you will also want to spend time with you away from the office/ministry. When you do life with others and invite them into “your world” you once again communicate that life is more than simply working on “your agenda.” Whether it’s sharing meals together, going jogging together, watching TV or sporting events together…the key word is “together” and it screams, “I value you and our relationship.”

7. Make efforts to maximize strengths
Great leaders are always looking to develop others. Selfish leaders look to people to better develop, enhance or promote themselves. You make a huge statement of value when you seek to maximize the skills, gifting and strengths of the individual you are leading. The spoken and unspoken question is, “How can I help you maximize your gifts so you’re most satisfied?” The answer to that question may lead to a place where you lose that person’s service to you. While that reality may not be the best result for you, it’s the best for the individual—and that’s the essence of value.

Many leaders are self-focused.
Many leaders use people.
Many leaders build their kingdom at the expense of others.

Don’t be that type of leader!
Value others and enjoy the benefits of being around people who feel valuable.
Don’t just say you value others—show it!

Pass this on! Everyone can use a little help here. I know people who are dying for value!

What do you think? Thoughts? Comments? Corrections? Questions?