When is your favorite day of the week? Every person has a day of the week that they most look forward to. For some it is Friday because it signals the kickoff to the weekend. (TGIF right?) For others a calm Saturday is the best. Maybe there are a few out there who really love Mondays. (Probably not)
My favorite day is Sunday – and not because my heart rate goes up watching the Falcon’s give me grey hair. I love Sunday’s because I get to gather with the church family to worship together. One of the best things about Sunday’s is the ability to serve alongside our volunteers at 12Stone Church – they are a great group of skilled and passionate people.
Most of our volunteers serve on a weekly or bi-weekly rhythm. The rhythm is intentional because we want there to be pacing and breathe for each person who serves. Our scheduling rhythms became increasingly important as we grew as a church and had people who were serving all the time.
I remember a few years ago when we switched our greeting team from a weekly rotation to every-other week. I thought they would cheer with excitement – instead it almost became a mutiny! I have heard similar stories from other ministry leaders and wondered “why?”
Why would volunteers push back so much when we were trying to create more space and breath for them? While I do not have a clear and studied answer, I do have a hunch.
There is a tension we must navigate in providing great opportunities for volunteers and helping them avoid burn out. Passionate volunteers want to serve like crazy; they do not like being told to sit on the sidelines for a play. Yet as leaders we have to have the wisdom and discernment to ensure people do not burn out.
Burn out is running out of gas while you are on the road. New drivers have to be careful in learning their car and its limits. It is easy for a new driver, or someone driving a new car to be unaware of the fuel situation…until it is too late. Most of us either know the experience of running out of gas or know someone who has done it. What do people say when the car shuts off from a lack of gas? “I had no idea it was that low!”
That same experience can be true for new volunteers or even experienced volunteers in new roles. Volunteers can easily run themselves dry and reach burn out. Wouldn’t it be great if we had instrumentation to help reveal the state of our internal tanks? Since people do not have an external gauge, leaders must stay attentive to the emotional, physical and spiritual stamina of their volunteers.