Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry?

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Photo by SJU Undergraduate Admissions

Volunteerism vs Calling

I’ve been involved as a leader in church ministry for the last 16+ years. I’ve had as many as 35-40 volunteers at any given time under my direct leadership during this 16 year period. Throw in the typical ministry churn that takes place in churches, and I would guess that I’ve seen 250-300 volunteers pass through my ministry alone.

As I’ve worked in the church world during this time, I can clearly see who shows up as a result of a spirit of volunteerism, and who serves because they feel the calling of the Lord to be a part of ministry. I’m not talking some crazy, mystical “God spoke to me in a dream after eating pizza last night” kind of experience, either.

Here’s what I have observed over the years:

  • Volunteers serve only when it is convenient. Called ministers serve during times of convenience as well as inconvenience.
  • Volunteers put in a “half-hearted” effort. Those called by God give their very best effort.
  • Volunteers want to quit at the first sign of a problem. Called ministers will dig in and persevere.
  • Volunteers can always find lots of reasons to complain and be unhappy. Those called of the Lord serve with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.

In my own ministry, I was recently reminded of the importance of the call into ministry for those under my direct leadership.

3 Important Reminders For Our Call Into Ministry

  1. Each one of us has a calling into ministry. Being a part of a specific ministry is more than volunteering. Hopefully, we have not been begged or coerced into using our gifts and abilities for ministry. We’re either called by God or we’re not called, and that’s okay. If God does call us though, we need to be obedient to that call.
  2. We are simply “stewards” or managers of our calling. In other words, “our individual positions are not really our positions.” Here’s what I mean: God has placed you in a specific position at a specific time in your church’s history. Right now, you’re responsible to be the best manager of your specific calling until the Lord decides that calling needs to change. All of us need to lead well, today, and then we need to do an awesome job of handing off the baton to the next called person sometime in the future.
  3. The mission of the church or a specific ministry must always move forward. This should be the primary purpose behind our calling. God will see that His purposes are fulfilled whether or not we remain faithful in our calling. We may even be moved on by Him to a different mission. Always keep your focus on the overall mission of your church body as well as your specific ministry calling.

Questions: Have you been obedient to your own personal call into ministry? How well are you managing the position God has called you to right now? Are you focused on God’s mission for your life and ministry, or are you selfishly focused on your own agenda?

Provide Massive Value First, Then Go For The Ask

Photo by jamesbastow

Photo by jamesbastow

Asked To Complete A Survey

One morning here recently, I was sitting at my iMac doing some writing, and an email came through from a social media/business networking company that I subscribe to. There was nothing outstanding about this email. It was pretty simple and straightforward. In fact, here’s what it said:

Dear Larry Jones,

Thanks for being a member of [company name]! The [company] Research team is conducting a slightly different kind of survey. The 7 to 12 question survey allows you to write answers based on what comes to your mind first after reading the question. Don’t think about your answers too much and feel free to keep your answers short. Your top of mind feedback will guide us in developing products and services to help you.

To take part, please respond in the next two business days. We will close the survey once we receive the desired number of qualified responses.

Please click here to begin the study.

We appreciate your time!

Best Regards,
[lady’s name]
Market Research Lead

See, it’s exactly as I said. A very simple, straightforward email. What I found interesting, though, is that this email immediately pushed me to take action.

Normally, on an email such as this, I would make a mental note and say to myself, “yeah, when I have an extra five minutes, I’ll fill out this survey.” But, not this time. I immediately stopped what I was doing and turned my attention to completing the survey for this company.

One could make the argument that it’s a well-written email with the claim of an easy-to-complete survey with a tight deadline to complete it. Yeah, I can see how that was part of my motivation to complete this quickly for them.

But, for me, the real reason I wanted to jump online and complete the survey is that I really like this company. I have received a lot of value from them. I appreciate what they do for me, personally and professionally. I can’t live without their product. I want to help them improve and become even more successful

You see, when you provide massive value to people, it’s easier to go for the ask and then ultimately get the action you desire.

Provide Value First

I believe the currency of our new economy is adding value. And, you must add a lot of value, too, over a lengthy period of time.

A quality, successful blog is a lot like this. You need to provide months, many times even years of high-value content before you can truly reap the benefits of the time and energy you have put into your content. Michael Hyatt’s blog is a good example of this. He’s currently riding a financial tidal wave of success based on years of blog writing with very little to no monetization on the front end. He built is tribe over several years, and now he’s receiving the financial reward from his tribe.

Of course, building relationships is key to anything we truly want to accomplish, whether it is a quality blog, influential ministry, successful business, or loving family. We must go above and beyond to provide massive value to those whom we influence.

Then hopefully, after we provide value to others, people will read our blog posts, follow our leadership, buy our products, or feel loved and appreciated. It’s as simple as that.

How Do We Add Value?

Adding value to others can be a challenge. I’m not going to over-simplify this. In 20+ years of leadership, I’ve noticed that every personal and professional relationship in the area of adding value varies from person to person.

With some people, you need to add tons of value with them before they completely trust you. For others, you may have an immediate, personal connection, and then they’re willing to follow you to the ends of the earth.

Here are some quick thoughts on adding value with people:

  • Be present. Show up. The only way you can add value in building relationships is to be present on a regular, ongoing basis.
  • Be energetic and magnetic. Is slow and lethargic inspiring? Probably not.
  • Have personal, meaningful conversations with them. Quality communication is key to developing any and all relationships
  • Follow-up quickly. If you promised to do something for someone, make that turn-around time as fast as humanly possible.
  • Provide WOW content. Your sermons have to be amazing. Your blog posts have to be killer. Your products have to be world-class. Your leadership has to be decisive and compelling. Your love must be unconditional.

Once we have added value, once we have gained the trust of those around us, then we can start the process of asking. The starting point, though, is always providing high value to others.

Questions: Are you doing a lot of asking for stuff and not receiving a whole lot in the process? If so, have you examined the value you are providing for others? Has your focus truly been on adding value into people’s lives or simply making the ask?