Starting a disability ministry at my church has taught me a lot of lessons. Some lessons I expected, like learning more about family dynamics, church policy and procedure, volunteer management, etc. But there are some lessons that have snuck up on me. Like the one I’m learning now—how to be a volunteer ministry leader. I’ve been a leader before, and I’ve been a volunteer. But not both at the same time.
I’m learning how much there is to volunteer leadership. I know many of you can relate to what I’m going through. There are very few paid church staff members who run disability ministries. Which means, many of us leading disability ministries use our free time to do all the work that goes into running a ministry. I don’t know about you, but when I get home from a full day of work the last thing I want to do is sit down to answer more emails. I’ve got pets demanding my attention that need to be fed. For those of you who are married, have children, or are still in school, that adds an extra layer of responsibility. Bottom line, we all have other things going on in our lives that demand our attention.
Trying to find the motivation to tackle my to-do list can be hard with so many other things going on. It’s much easier to procrastinate when you’re only a volunteer. I catch myself reasoning away my responsibilities in my head. I’m not qualified to manage all this work. I’ve never trained anyone before, so how can I be expected to manage volunteers? These thoughts can tempt me to lower my standards… If I lower my standards, then maybe I could manage everything more easily. I admit, these are real thoughts I’ve had. They look a lot worse on my computer screen then they sounded in my head, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re thinking… How is her ministry still running? All I can say is that God is a good and gracious God. He is the reason our ministry still serves our families every week.
I’m diligently working to improve my time management to help me get through the rough weeks ahead. But God has graciously reminded me that He has filled me with a Spirit of power, not of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Fear will always find opportunity to sneak into my thoughts. I’m human. But so was Jesus when He begged the Father to take away the burden of the cross in the Garden of Gethsemane. So, what did the Father do? He didn’t remove the burden, but He filled Jesus with a Spirit of Power. And that Power carried Him all the way to the cross.
So, when I get home tonight and I’m met with a lengthy list of emails and volunteer schedules, I’m going to be tapping into the Power I have access to as a Child of God. And I’m going to think of the kids I get to serve every Sunday—if I can be an instrument of God’s love for them by sending some emails then you better believe I’m going to do it.
If you’ve been struggling with being a volunteer leader, I want to be praying for you. If you have any time saving tips or motivational verses, I’d love to hear those too! We’re not alone in our endeavors, friends! We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses that have walked the road ahead of us.
Rachel Roleder serves as the Manager of the Cause 4 Life, Global Missions and Internships Department at Joni and Friends. Rachel enjoys learning more of God’s design for His church as she leads teams of interns on disability ministry outreaches all over the world.