If you have spent any time in church leadership you know the danger in making a bad hire or recruiting the wrong volunteer. You spend time and energy trying to “fix” them. You worry about firing them or asking them to leave. You inevitably fire them or ask them to leave. The ministry suffers. Odds are that their relationship with your church will never be the same. There is a danger that their relationship with Jesus will suffer - I’ve seen it happen.
The best method to prevent a bad ministry ending is to never let it have a beginning. I have found asking myself three questions before making a hire or approaching a potential volunteer to be helpful.
1. Whose bucket are they filling?
My first job out of college was teaching middle school. A wise principal and mentor of mine often said that teachers have one of two basic motivations for being a teacher. They either are there to fill their own bucket or to fill the bucket of others. Teachers are in it for the emotional, feel-good affirmation of being a teacher (filling their emotional bucket) or they are selflessly dedicated to helping students and families (filling the bucket of others). I believe this principle applies to working or volunteering in a church. You are either in it for your own needs (affirmation, proving that you love Jesus, guilt) or are sold out for making disciples for Jesus. It is crucial that you discern the unstated, often clouded motivation of someone who you might ask to serve. If they are in it to fill their own bucket, their focus will be on themselves and their particular ministry program. If they are in it to fill the bucket of others, they will breathe life into your entire ministry and impact people.
2. Are they focused on the people we are trying to reach?
People who are eager to serve on a church staff or volunteer often have awesome intentions and will be an asset on your team. Occasionally, what may seem to be a good intention is a mask hiding a personal agenda. It may sound nice when Nancy applies for a job in your Children’s Ministry because she “thinks it needs improvement.” After all, it may need improvement. It might sound like a good intention when Ken, a recently retired executive, volunteers to organize your hospitality ministry because “we need to be more organized around here.” That is probably true! Nancy and Ken have agendas - and they may not even know it. You don’t want their agendas, even if they are right. You want servants focused on reaching people. I’d rather have someone who just plain loves kids serving in Children’s ministry. I’d rather have someone who likes serving people volunteer in hospitality. I want people who are sold out for the vision of our church.
3. Do I want to hang out with this person?
This one is simple. You will be spending time with this person. Possibly a lot of time. Do you want to spend time with them? Do they give you energy or do they cost you energy? If the answer is no, save yourself from future problems and don’t hire or recruit them.
What questions do you ask yourself before making an “ask” of someone? Let me know!