Caring For Your Volunteers: Rest

Kim Porter November 17, 2015
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It’s almost Thanksgiving and though most people are thinking about turkeys, family time and cooler weather, those of us involved in the church world already have our brains spinning around the upcoming Christmas Holiday. 

We are busy sorting though music, Christmas stage designs or just general holiday service planning. Of course, there is also the painful process of creating a schedule that will accommodate all of your volunteers’ requests for time off. Add to it, those who show up late or perhaps don’t even show up at all. With the already mounting stress of scheduling teams and limited resources, you could be in for a stomachache and migraine or, much worse, thoughts of abandoning your leadership position all together! Because of this, our natural reactions tend to be to ask, plead, beg and borrow team members to fill in the gaps. Though that may guilt a few volunteers to step up a little more during this season, over all it will not create the type of experience you may want your team to have.

As hard as it is, as leaders, what we really need to do is to make sure our volunteers are getting times of rest. It seems contrary to any advice we’d receive when the general church world would tell us we have to fill our teams with more great musicians, sound techs or lighting engineers. I’d like to suggest that encouraging your team to take time off will actually create a team dynamic that will not only keep it healthy, but will also attract others to want to join. The result may even be more talented volunteers getting on board!

Here are a few of the benefits of encouraging your team members to take a break:

It Realigns Priorities.

As someone who grew up in the church world and continues to serve there, it can become a struggle at times to balance our marriage, family, work and church life. There are cycles in life where one area will rise above the others, but if we are not careful, we can tend to allow the most important things to move to the bottom permanently. We owe it to our volunteers to make sure they are keeping their spouses and family as a priority. This means, if they need to take off a month for Johnny’s soccer games, we don’t grumble, we, in turn, encourage it. If our team members have a healthy balance at home, they will be happier and more willing to pitch in when they are needed.

It Replenishes the Soul.

Anyone who takes a relaxing vacation will know that, when you return, you feel completely refreshed and more ready to take on the load of work and life waiting back home. Encouraging your volunteers to take time to refresh and unwind, can give them just what they needed to get back in the game and put their heart back into serving Christ in their ministry.

It Reminds us Why We Serve.

What I have found over and over again, is that team members who take a break for a few weeks, or even a few months, are anxious to get back in. They enjoyed the rest, but they had a chance to remember why they loved volunteering in the beginning. If you have a team member who is close to burnout, the best thing you can do is get them to step off the team for a season. When we give them the opportunity to rest from their obligations, if they truly feel God leading them to continue serving in your ministry, they will be more than ready to jump back in after a break.

Just like athletes need to build in time for resting their bodies, so do volunteers in our ministries. No matter where they serve, rest can help maintain a better balance between family life, work, and service in the church. Don’t miss out on keeping your team members healthy by encouraging them to take much needed time off. You will build stronger, healthier teams when you truly care for your volunteers.

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Kim Porter

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