Matt: How we think of ourselves will have a lot to do with how others see us. If you think of yourself as “just a volunteer” chances are your students will think of you that way as well. When you consider that God has chosen you to be a leader for a group of students you realize how important your role is. Everything we do should be done for the glory of God, and that includes being a volunteer. Jesus calls on us all to serve, the Bible commands it. We show our love for Jesus by serving others. If you’re like me and your gifts and talents are in student ministry you need to do it to the best of your ability. Once you step out and begin to spend more time with students, talk with them more, encourage them more and love on them, it becomes easier and easier.
Students need the attention and leadership of adult role models in their life. My experience is that so many students come from single parent families that they crave the attention of a positive role model. It’s hard to grow close to students if you think of yourself as “just a volunteer.” Think of yourself as a vital member of your student ministry team, get involved and find ways to stay involved. Make it a goal to make a connection each week with each one of your students either in person or a phone call or text. Those are the things that staff members don’t have the time to do for each and every student. When you make an intentional connection each week, you’re growing closer to students, making them feel wanted and loved and showing them ways to grow in their faith and in their walk with God. You may be a lot of things…but you are never “just a volunteer”!
Steven: Happy Halloween! Last week I wrote a bit about how as volunteers we’re called to more than being “just a volunteer.” We need to step up and be the youth pastor. If your youth pastor has enough faith in you to let you either lead a small group or work with students in any way, he or she obviously trusts you with students! Don’t feel like you can’t be effective just because you aren’t receiving a paycheck for it.
This week I want to talk more to the youth ministry staff members and youth pastors. Having been on both sides, I know what it’s like to have to work in youth ministry full-time and as a volunteer with other obligations. Paid youth workers have a responsibility not just to the students they lead, but also to the volunteers under them. Paid youth workers need to be the empowering people and the guiding force behind volunteers. They need to be the ones to give them the encouragement and the tools necessary to leading students toward God and keeping them on that path.
I’ve had the privilege of working with probably the best volunteer coordinator in whole world. Her name is Katie Edwards. She is now the Junior High Ministry director at Saddleback, but even with a full plate of leading the team she still finds time to care for and encourage her volunteers. Katie is one of the most uplifting and empowering people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I pray that someday I’ll be able to have an ounce of that type of personality. Katie is a perfect example of what a youth worker should look like in relation to volunteers.