I love our volunteers! They are extremely invested in the lives of the kids in our ministry. And they return enthusiastically every week to pour into the children and adults they serve. 

As we move toward Easter in the fast pace of life, I am aware of the spiritual, physical, and emotional toll life is taking on our team.

I am pretty good at appreciating our volunteers—you could say it’s part of my love language. I love giving gifts, writing thank-you cards, and giving words of encouragement in public settings. But one of the things God convicted me of early in ministry is to be better at caring for people—not just appreciate them.

Jesus turned the norm on its head and set an example for each one of us. He leaned in and showed that there was no limit to His care.

We are all pretty good at caring for the children in our ministries, but we could work on caring for our teams. And it’s true. While I was good at appreciating our volunteers, I needed to get better at caring for them. There’s a difference.

Even though I may be good at appreciating people for a job well done, I need to focus on leaning in. It’s important to be attuned to care for the individual people who make up our team.

Following Jesus’ Example

In John 13, Jesus broke the norm and washed the feet of His disciples. He knelt before them and shared an intimate act of love and service. When you dive into this piece of Scripture and the context of the time in history, it was counter cultural. It was not normal to wash someone else’s feet if you were their leader.

But Jesus turned the norm on its head and set an example for each one of us. He leaned in and showed that there was no limit to His care. He was invested in the lives of His team, the disciples.

Remember, ministry is not a job, it’s a high calling. Whether er are paid or not, we are called to serve those in our care. To serve and not simply lead.

Caring for Your Team

Create a Culture of Care in Your Team

Changing culture starts with you and the example you set by the way you invest in the lives of leaders and families in your ministry. Some people are wired for and have the giftedness to care because of their family background or spiritual gifting.

Others of us must work on this and become more spiritually mature.

Remember most things are caught, not taught. Your example of care will be caught by those around you. Lean in.

Pray with and for Your Team

Making prayer a priority might seem like a “duh” moment. But you’d be surprised how often stress and our fast paces take over the thing we know we should do. When this happens, the thing we know we should do is often not the first thing we think of doing.

It is amazing to me that when I set a rhythm in my schedule to pray for and with my team, God reveals things to me.

We are called to serve those in our care. To serve and not simply lead.

mother watching child play
Credit:Getty Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Lordin

Be Present

People who know me well, know that I love dessert. Not just any dessert, but French desserts. I have a love/hate relationship with a local French pastry shop.  Every time I go there, the lines are long and that frustrates me when I’m not intentionally patient.

But, when I get to the front of the line, the staff who work there treat me like I am the only person they are serving that day. They are fully present. They don’t rush me, and they take their time to engage with me on a personal level.

I think that in ministry, especially in the larger ministry settings I have worked in, it is sometimes difficult to engage and be fully present with the people we are serving. And many times, it’s because there are so many moving pieces that I have to remind myself often to slow down and be present with people because they matter. Each one matters and will often only share the hard things they are experiencing if we are fully present.

Intentional leadership starts with you.

Let me just say this has been a hard—but s necessary—thing for me to work on. Being present in the moments with our teams is a sign of respect.

Recently I read a great book that talks about engaging with the people we lead and serve called Rare Leadership by Marcus Wagner and Jim Wilder. I highly recommend it if you want to work on your own leadership.

Sense When Someone Needs a Break

When we know our teams and listen, we can often sense when someone needs a break. Whether it’s for a week, month, or longer, we help our teams and the people serving when we care enough to identify when someone needs a break.

Some people won’t tell us when they are overwhelmed or feeling burnt out—we have to discern that.

By providing time off, even when it isn’t in the natural rhythm for a break, we can care for our teams.

Invest Spiritually

Provide moments throughout the year for your team to refresh by providing spiritual resources and meaningful moments—like mini-Sabbaths.

This is not the same as providing training for our team to do their job well, this is an opportunity for them to pause and spend time with God before investing in the people they are serving.

Empower Your Team to Care for Each Other

When you set an example by your care, your team will start to do this for each other. I have had team members ask for permission to reach out to someone on our team who needed care.

Some others have even asked me to reach out. So I have learned to turn it around and empower our team to show care … and they have.

As we approach Easter, let’s consider what God might be saying to us about how to intentionally care for our teams. Let’s follow His example set before us. And let’s care well.