The Enemy of Volunteer Care

I was at lunch with my friend Lee a couple of weeks ago and he tossed out a phrase that caught me. He used the phrase “the enemy of volunteer care.” Now if you toss out a phrase like that it is going to grab my attention for a few reasons. First – I could talk all day long about volunteers and caring for volunteers. However when you use the word enemy it does something in me.

Perhaps it is all the movies and stories where we learn to rise up against an enemy. Enemy is a strong term and it should evoke instant action.

So when Lee tossed out the phrase “the enemy of volunteer care” I was keyed up and ready to go! What would you use to finish the statement? What do you find stands in the way of truly caring for and investing in volunteers?

I found Lee’s perspective gave me fresh passion at lunch, he said, “the enemy of volunteer care is thinking you have done enough.” Sit in that for a minute. The enemy of volunteer care…the thing that causes us the biggest struggle and largest breakdowns is simply thinking you have done enough. The statement resonated with me the minute he said it.

Volunteer care is a very ambiguous term. How do you measure it? Where is its starting point and when have you completed it? How do you quantify and measure a goal when it comes to volunteer care?

Caring for volunteers you lead or serve alongside is more like an intention than a goal. It is a desire that drives you internally. When we are busy or under pressure we naturally start to look at ways to relief pressure. If you are busy you start to look for things you can drop from your plate.

This is at the core of what Lee was trying to say. If you work or serve in any sort of volunteer environment you know the feeling of pressure and the reality of needing more hours in the day. Because volunteer care is something immeasurable it is easy to shift attention away from it and towards more pressing matters. We must embrace the truth that our work of volunteer care is never complete.

Volunteer care might look very different depending on the leader or the environment. A working definition for volunteer care might be, “investment into the people who give their time and energy to help build the Kingdom of God.”

No matter what pressures you feel, no matter what time crunches you are experiencing, continue to give yourself to the work of volunteer care. Never stop investing. Never stop affirming. Find ways to encourage a volunteer every day. Think about the next thing your volunteers need to be taught. Make spending intentional time with volunteers a priority on your calendar.

If you lead volunteers in any way, make it an ongoing intention to care for them and lead them well.

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