Recently, I was having a discussion with one of our very best volunteer leaders. They were sharing, reluctantly, how they were frustrated with some other leaders. This wonderful person was struggling with the fact that they didn’t see the commitment in a few other leaders that needed to be there, and it was bothering them. She felt like she must be in the wrong, that she was being judgmental, and didn’t even want to bring it up to me. It actually turned out to be a great conversation, and one that is going to lead to many more.
Earlier in my ministry, I would have totally missed what was going on. I would have seen her as complaining, and counseled her to go work this out between her and them, and basically dropped it. Fortunately, God was kind enough to clue me in to a little more during this conversation, and didn’t let me miss this golden opportunity. This leader is a wonderful person, caring, and passionate. They weren’t being judgmental. They were being called to grow. Here is what I saw and heard as I asked questions and listened. She spoke of how the other leaders didn’t seem to be giving their all to the ministry. She sacrifices beyond her role at youth group, spends time with kids outside of church, listens and loves them deeply. That level of care isn’t present in all of our leaders, of course. Her heart is to see the ministry continue to reach and serve more and more kids and families, and is jealous for that to happen.
She needs to understand this passion is being faithful to what God is building in her. God is calling her to step it up, and serve as a disciple maker in these adults lives. Now understand, she has a wide variety of excuses as to why it won’t work: she can point to her past failures, mistakes, missed opportunities, selfish issues, and personality traits all as reasons God can’t use her. It’s just like Moses standing before the burning bush, explaining to God why he can’t go because he’s a stuttering murderer. God didn’t worry about it then, and He doesn’t now. He only sees the potential, the beautiful hope of redemption. That’s what is going on here, with this leader. He is calling her forward to the next step. She has to come to peace with the idea that as she follows Jesus, He is actually changing her, growing her, maturing her. It’s time. It’s time to let Him use her in new ways, with new people, as she continues doing what she has been doing. This is always such a tough transition for all of us. We see ourselves as too young, too messed up, lacking experience that others have, not mature enough yet. One day, we will be there, but not yet. Then Jesus taps us on the shoulder, and full of love and grace, calls for us to step it up, that today is that day. Every leader faces it, and every authentic leader struggles at some point with this call.
As a leader, are you tuned in for what God may really be doing? If you’re not looking for it, you probably won’t see it. I’m learning that making disciples among my adults often means I care about them way above and beyond their role in my little corner of ministry. Are you watching for how God is working in your volunteers? Are you fanning the flames in them that God has lit in them?
Even more importantly, is God calling you to step it up as a leader? You may lead a children’s or youth ministry, but you are called to make disciples and be a pastor. Are you really looking out for your volunteers, or merely training them to do the tasks of the ministry better? Don’t be afraid to speak loving truth to your team. YOU are called to be more than you are. Accept that, and then be willing to call the same out of your leaders.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories, or questions!