Several years ago I read a book with the title listed above. It was written by a Seminary President who felt that people had lost some of the common courtesies of life. The book pointed out how often a word of kindness such as thank you could make a difference in a relationship.
I have become increasingly convinced that ministry leaders have become afflicted with the disease of taking people for granted. “Please” and “thank you” are forgotten in the verbal exchange. It would appear in some cases that service is “owed” to the organization as opposed to a sense of gratitude for the hours given and in some cases, the sacrifices made.
As a church board member years ago, I recall leaving a meeting at a very late hour and then rising early to go to work. Meanwhile I found staff members took the next day off because they had been “out late”. I was amazed that I was expected to give up an evening for a long meeting (often poorly run) and continue my professional career but pastoral staff couldn’t keep a similar schedule. Even today, I find the concept discouraging and frankly a bit hypocritical.
If you are a leader in a Christian ministry or on a Pastoral staff, take time to appreciate your people. “Thank you” is a nice word to hear when you are giving many hours for a project.
I hear complaints that “we can’t recruit volunteers”. Perhaps you should examine how those volunteers are recruited, if they are given job descriptions, encouraged and thanked. My experience is that a small number of people do the volunteering, sometimes for years, and simply burn out. I believe those who are not volunteering observe this process and simply don’t want to go through a similar experience.
My wife, Bev, who was a church office administrator for 20+ years, held a volunteer luncheon each year for those who volunteered in the office and in the “quiet” jobs around the church. It was a fun filled occasoin with special little gifts and lots of thanks. I noticed she never had any difficulty recruiting .
Take time to thank those who help your ministry be effective. You might find they will come for more!
I have developed some principles for my own life as a result of my spiritual journey and a clearer understanding of God’s plan for stewardship:
- Giving is a privilege. If we own a car or a home, our resources are in the top two percent of the world’s population. The resources are God’s and I simply must give back to him.
- Generous giving is an evidence of spiritual leadership. We can learn from David in 1 Chronicles 29: giving begins with the leader.
- Giving must be based on stewardship decisions. Although people often say they will give something, a “something” gift is rarely sacrificial. Jesus challenged the rich young ruler to give everything, and praised the poor widow who gave her last mite.
- People give to vision, not programs and budgets. Changed lives, rebuilt homes, marriages restored and needs met among the poor are just a few of the solid, life-changing ministries that Christians want to support with their resources.
- Giving is a way of relaxing money’s grip on us. Because money is often synonymous with power, giving helps us see money with the right perspective.
- Christians should be challenged to combine their faith and their giving. We, as Christians, can and should be encouraged to live simply and prudently, seeking the gift – and satisfaction – of giving.
Over the past 30 years I’ve had the opportunity of working with hundreds of volunteers. One humble gentleman and committed Christian volunteered to serve on the major gifts committee of a capital campaign. He had been very successful in his farming business and wanted to give back to God. I accompanied him as he visited friends and family to share his passion for this particular ministry. As a result of his personal stewardship and the financial response of those he visited, he was personally responsible for nearly 30 percent of the total campaign goal.
Author Richard Foster has written, “In times of persecution, Christians give their lives, in times of prosperity, Christians give the fruit of their life’s work.”
When – and if – you and I turn from our own pursuits to face the needs and the needy God has put in our lives, will we respond as God-honoring stewards who can do nothing less in light of His generous gifts to us?