For Valentine’s Day last year my husband gave me a beautiful orchid. Its blooms were sweet sunshine yellow with a touch of pink in the center–a joy to behold during those dreary winter days! It bloomed for quite some time but, inevitably, the blooms fell off. That’s okay, I thought. It needs to rest. It will bloom again. This is the cycle of life.
But here we are at Valentine’s Day a year later and my orchid has not bloomed again.
Now, to be honest, I don’t have the proverbial green thumb. But I’ve watered the orchid faithfully. I re-potted it in fresh medium. I gave it a little change of scenery by moving it to a spot with better lighting. The leaves are lovely green, but that’s not enough. I long for new sunshine yellow blooms. What have I missed? Ah, yes…it needs to be fed.
Look around at your volunteer ministers. How long has it been since some of them “bloomed?” When is the last time they came with a fresh idea to bring new life to their ministry? Has their enthusiasm waned? Is their commitment beginning to lessen? Perhaps one or two are teetering on the brink of becoming no-show volunteers?
What’s missing? Have you fed them lately?
If you are an equipping leader, you know the value of having a devotional at the beginning of team meetings, praying with and for your team, recognizing their contribution with a celebration banquet once a year. Maybe you even manage to send out a birthday card or stop them in the hallway to personally thank them. That’s good! But is it enough? What do they really need?
Everything mentioned above is like all-purpose fertilizer, composition 24-8-16. You can use it for most plants. It’s got the basics. But roses prefer 18-24-16. And guess what orchids like? 30-10-10. If I use all-purpose fertilizer on my orchids, I can say that I’m feeding them. But am I feeding them what they really need?
Do you know what your volunteer ministers really need? Probably not. Ask. You may hear…
- I’m hungry for more of the Word (help them find a good Bible study; be willing to release them from serving for awhile so they have the time to attend)
- I’m bored (re-visit their discovery process to see what new things God has been doing in their life)
- I have ideas, but our meetings are so agenda-driven that I don’t have a chance to share (be intentional about creating space for the least vocal person in the group to be heard)
- I have an issue in my life for which I need deep prayer and counseling (connect them with a spiritual director or counselor; be aware that finances may be a problem and help them find a solution)
- I’m supposed to be a leader, but I don’t know how to lead (if you can’t mentor them yourself, find someone who can or arrange for them to participate in leadership development training)
Seek out the volunteer who hasn’t bloomed in awhile. Be intentional about having a conversation. Be even more intentional about talking less and listening more. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you really hear what’s missing and what’s needed. Then act. Pray. Help. Nurture. Encourage. Connect. LOVE.
What about you, Ministry Leader? Has your ministry lost its bloom? Do you need “food” that is specifically designed for leading volunteer ministry? I would like to help. You can contact me directly through my website. Let’s have an intentional conversation about what you really need!