One of the consistent needs that leaders express is their need for more volunteers. There is often a desperate search to find, recruit and place volunteers. Regardless of whether these volunteers are filling a need (stuffing bulletins, changing diapers, usher, etc…) or shepherding people (small group leader, mentor, etc…) the pressure is always on to find more people.

Typically, the desperate cry heard from leaders of leaders is, “How do I get people involved?”

Books have been written to address this cry, seminars have been developed, organizations started to help us find volunteers. All these tools fill a great need for helping us succeed with volunteers.

But, instead of attempting to answer the primary question (“How do I get people involved?”), I’d like to present a different question that may help you keep volunteers involved. The question is one that volunteers are asking.

It’s a simple, yet profound question: “Do you value me?”

Leaders of leaders are often good at finding people to serve. But once they find someone it’s almost as if they check-it-off their “to do” list. “Yep! I found a new leader…check!” And then they’re on to the next task on their list. But, before too long, that familiar task pops back up again…”find leader for _____.”

The question I like to ask leaders-of-leaders is, “If I could wave a wand and get you 10 leaders, how would you keep them?” This is a very important question for leaders! It’s not unusual for a leader to be strong in the finding and weak in the caring.

If volunteers aren’t cared for…if they’re not valued…if they’re not given personal attention…if they’re only seen as “workers” and not “hearts in need of love and attention”…those volunteers will find themselves disinterested and leave to something else.

My observation is that volunteers don’t leave ministries, they leave leaders.

So, here’s the question for reflection: Are you the type of leader that make volunteers feel valued? Or, are you more interested in the next task and you’ll unconsciously leave volunteers on their own?

Let’s learn from one another–share your ideas: what are you currently doing to value your volunteers?