The major method for motivating people in the American workplace is money. That’s not part of the equation in motivating volunteers. How then can ministry leaders effectively motivate volunteers?
The answer is both simple and complex. Simply put, no person can really motivate another person. They can only create a climate in which a person chooses to do something. Ministry leaders can create this climate, even though it may be challenging. People are all different and they respond differently to various acclimatizing influences. Ministry leaders must be aware of these differences.
Despite these complexities, ministry leaders can create a climate for motivation by keeping two important factors prominent in their volunteer relationships. First, Christians are motivated by personal growth – by becoming more like Jesus. Second, Christians are also motivated by personal contribution – by doing work that advances Jesus’ kingdom. Leaders create a climate for motivation by connecting volunteer service to these two primary motivators.
Volunteers must sense their role is contributing to their spiritual development. Ministry leaders can encourage this by helping volunteers reflect on their service, proposing ways service contributes to personal development, sharing stories (or getting volunteers to tell each other their stories) of personal growth through volunteer challenges, and allowing volunteers to openly talk about their personal struggles encountered while volunteering.
Volunteers also want to know how their service contributes to the overall mission of their organization and how, by that means, they are serving God’s mission. Leaders can do this by continually telling stories of ministry progress, consistently reminding volunteers of their role in every ministry success, and magnifying specific acts of volunteer service that contributed to organizational health. Leaders who “share the glory” remind volunteers of their integral part in the positive results their organization achieves.
Motivating others is more about creating a climate for motivation than finding the magic elixir that keeps people serving. As leaders, we create a motivational culture by connecting Christian service to personal growth and kingdom advance. We do this by what we say, what we reward, and how we share accolades and accomplishments with others.
Volunteers are essential to ministry success. For more insight on how to create a motivational climate in your church or ministry organization, check out the podcast this week.