When my wife and I go out on a date night there are two types of places we can go. We can go to a common neighborhood location, or we can go and do something special and unique. The neighborhood places allow us to stay on local roads as we drive at and navigate low levels of speed on the road. To go somewhere special we are usually going to head to the city, which means getting on the interstate and taking on high levels of speed and traffic. There is a right speed for the local roads and a different speed for the highway; that is just the basics of driving. The same is true when working with volunteers.
One of the tensions ministry leaders have to manage is the Speed of Productivity and the Speed of Relationships. Ministry leader carry responsibility and ownership for getting stuff done, and volunteers are a key part of accomplishing the mission. There is a pressure building, quick pace nature to what leaders do. The weight of ministry – the reality that there is a special destination or end goal causes leaders to travel at a highway speed of productivity.
Volunteers come in ready to travel at a different speed. You see most people that volunteer have a small window of time they can serve each week, and that volunteer spot offers them a time to slow down and enjoy service and community with those on the team. Volunteers come in desiring a leisurely drive down a country road. They show up ready to travel at the speed of relationship.
I can’t get to special date night destinations without driving on both the low speed local roads and the high speed highways. The same is true for leading volunteers – we must learn to live between the tension of the speed of productivity and the speed of relationships. Ministry team leaders must accomplish two things at once – event management while creating a communal experience. That will create tension! When leaders try to treat this tension as a problem they are in danger of blowing up there team. People want to experience both speeds, and that is a part of getting somewhere special. Volunteers want play and purpose – they want time for relationships, but they also want to be on a winning team. You might be shocked how quickly someone will stop serving when they feel like the team isn’t winning, or that they can’t build relationships with other team members.
The goal is to find the balance between these two speeds, and help volunteers merge these two speeds together as they serve. As you look at the teams you lead – are you showing them how to experience community while winning?