How to lead volunteers well

Leadership is all about developing other leaders. It allows you to multiply the work by equipping and sending them out to do the work of ministry or service. Learning to lead is a process. Leading volunteers, as a volunteer yourself, is challenging. But when we have bonded and born fruit with other believers nothing can describe the joy it brings.

Five things I’ve learned the hard way as a leader:
  1. The leader cannot take a group farther spiritually than they have gone themselves. Pastoring and feeding your own soul will be the most important thing you need to learn to do, or you will fail.
  2. Never ask more of a follower than you are willing to do. Be willing to stay the longest, work the hardest, and pray the most.
  3. Recruiting, training, and motivating your team is your job. Learning to identify gifts, give the tools needed to succeed, and keep the team inspired requires constant tending. Evaluating the produce is constantly needed.
  4. Be able to articulate the vision. God’s people will work and even be willing to go somewhere new with you only when they can see the vision and adopt it as their own. Your job is to cast that vision in a way that brings them onboard.
  5. Deflect the credit and absorb the blame. As a leader, you are called to be the shock absorber, the wind in their sails, and the buck stopper. When decisions are called for, make the call. When something goes wrong, be accountable. When it all goes better than planned, be quick to affirm the team and celebrate to God’s glory.
  6. Be respectful. Have the integrity to be on time, be prepared, and earn trust over the long haul. Do what you say you will do. Apologize if you are wrong. Admit when you don’t know. Never throw away a relationship when people disappoint you or criticize you. Listen to input from the ground troops. Care about their needs. Have some fun with the team.

Leading is not for the lazy, the coward, or the “my way or the highway” kind of person. Leading in the flesh is exhausting. Remember to be a good follower too. Whoever is in authority over you needs to know they have your loyalty and support. When we all work together there is no limit to what God can do through us or in us. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

What tips do you have to add for leading others?

Published February 5, 2016