Thursday, March 20, 2014

Support & Encourage Volunteers in Practical . . . and Needed Ways

As I've posted in the past, ""I do not believe burnout is really a problem in children’s ministry. Stay with me for a minute as I explain. When we, or a volunteer, are tired from serving, instead of identifying it as, 'we are tired', we call it burn-out. Or, when one of us experiences frustration because we are serving on our own or took too much on for us to be able to handle, instead identifying it as we are doing too much on our own, we call it burnout.

There are other examples, but the point is, burnout is not really the problem.
Misidentifying, or even not identifying, the problem is the problem. When we fail to correctly identify the problem, we can’t solve the problem and sadly, the end result is, people leave ministry and do not experience the joy God has for them when they serve. This is a true tragedy."

You will find the full post at this link, but today I want to focus on how important it is to correctly identify and take action when a volunteer experiences health issues and needs our support and encouragement . . . in practical and needed ways. When a volunteer experiences health issues, it can become all too easy to step out of children's ministry, and never return; especially if they are not supported and encouraged while they have stepped out.

The truth is, when facing and dealing with health issues, volunteers truly may need to step out of the area where they are serving. For example, a dear, sweet lady at my church suffers with severe arthritis. This past winter, she fell in her home. At the hospital they discovered she actually fainted because she had a bleeding ulcer. She had surgery, spent more than a week at a rehab hospital and has been home-bound as she recovers. Clearly, for these past months - and even a few more months to come - she has had to step out of her place of serving as a kindergarten Sunday school teacher.

Her small group at church and her family has been able to see to her needs for meals and help around her home, so we have been very intentional about having the children in her class, their parents and the other Sunday school teachers making and signing cards which we send to her. Children and parents have also taken it upon themselves to send cards, as have other teachers. This teacher told me when she received one package of cards made by the children and signed by their parents, she began to cry. Her grandson was there and was concerned when he saw her tears, but she assured him they were, "happy tears"! While this teacher misses seeing the children in her class, we have been able to, "keep them in touch" while she is home-bound and recovering!

Another teacher recently had pneumonia and complications with another health issue which resulted in her spending more than a week in the hospital. She is home now and we have arranged for her to receive meals, had all the children in the Sunday school make a large card for her and had the other teachers sign a card as well. (We use Take Them A Meal to arrange the meals - check it out as it is a great way to be arrange for meals!)

Both of these teachers feel supported and loved . . . and isn't this what we want our teachers to feel when they are dealing with difficult physical issues?  Contrast this with how I felt years ago when I was involved with a different church than where I am now. I went literally blind in one eye - eventually my eyesight mostly returned and I was diagnosed with MS. But, at the time, my GP said the blindness would spread to my other eye and be permanent; this was scary. Not one person from my church contacted me or said anything.

Do NOT let your volunteers, "slip through the cracks" when they are facing difficult medical issues. I can guarantee you to them, those "cracks" feel like the "Grand Canyon". Commit to supporting and encouraging your volunteers in practical and needed ways; provide meals, visits, cleaning, cards, etc and in so doing you will support and encourage your volunteers!

How do you support and encourage your volunteers in practical and needed ways?

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