Dec. 29, 2016 | by Kent Evans

Are you ever the one tasked with finding volunteers for your church or nonprofit? It’s not easy is it?! It can be a painfully slow process. And, it often yields shallow resource pools and frustrated team members.

I believe one reason we often struggle with this is because we are not habitually observing those around us. We sit squirreled up until one day we realize we need help. We pop above ground and grab the nearest guy, dragging him into our hole and putting him to work, regardless of his skill, passion, or bandwidth.

Yet, if we become “always-on” observers of others, we can ride this tiger instead of constantly being dragged behind it clutching the tail.

The challenge of course is that observation is not fast, cheap, or easy. It requires that we invest time and have an open mind regarding the gifts and passions of others.

Often we have a need and we set out to find those skills in the people around us. Our eyes and ears deceive us and we imagine skills that aren’t really there, simply because the need is great.

We have to accept the truth. We cannot try to implant certain capabilities just through the power of positive thinking.

Sometimes we need to fill a gap quickly, so we take a one-size-fits-all approach to enlisting volunteers. This is understandable and sometimes everyone needs to pitch in and take out the trash. However, it’s not a good long-term strategy.

Our former men’s pastor, Kurt Sauder, was a master of this craft. He is a hunter and seemed to apply some of those same skills in volunteer recruitment. He observed the patterns of his “prey” (!) and tracked it diligently. Then, when he needed to snag them he was already in close range.

He would often approach someone saying, “Joe, I just realized that you work as an accountant, right? That’s terrific. You probably have a ton of skill doing budgets and making sure money is well spent. Would you consider joining our leadership team and managing our annual budgeting process?”

It wasn’t always that easy or custom-fit, but I heard him connect the skill-to-need dots dozens of times. He first observed what a guy was good at; then, he prayed about how he might be able to leverage those skills; then, when the time was right, he popped the question.

Many ministry professionals give into the temptation to focus only on “What do I need done?” and “Who can do it?” Find a problem, get a warm body on it. Skipping various steps in between. Haste is usually the hunter’s enemy.

Who are you surrounded by? What are they good at? What gets them excited?

Make a note of this. It just might come in handy one day.

Content based on Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You, by Kent Evans.

Topics: Leadership, Ministry, Vision, Volunteers

Kent Evans

Kent Evans is a marketing and business guy who helped create Manhood Journey, an organization helping to restore fatherhood and discipleship through small group Bible study. He resides in Louisville, KY with his amazing wife and four sons.

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