“I need four parents to come in and read to students. Please sign up here.”

“If four parents are able to come in and help read to students I will be freed up to provide individual attention to some of our students who are reading below grade level thereby helping all of our students to finish 3rd grade at our above grade level. Sign up here if you would like to join me on the quest of educating our children.”

The first email I delete immediately.

The second I re arrange my schedule to try to read to kids every week.

The first email puts the teacher at the center.

The second puts kids at the center.

The first is not true.

The second is.

The teacher doesn’t really NEED help, things would simply be better if parents did help.

Instead of using need when communicating with volunteers what if we just changed the formula to:

________________ which is currently impossible would become possible if _________________ because______________.


“I need the committee to take full ownership of the banquet because I have too much going on.”


“More kids could would be discipled in more communities if the committee took full ownership of the banquet. Would you join the banquet planning team allowing YL staff to focus their attention on discipling kids and pursuing leads in neighboring communities?”

Challenge: Every time you use the word need out loud or in your thoughts run it through this formula.


Two traps we can fall into with volunteers:

Seeking Pity: If I could go back to my early days on YL staff I would do this very differently. The truth is that most of the time the lives of committee members are more complicated than ours. They are working demanding jobs, navigating personal challenges, raising a family etc and on top of that are choosing to serve YL. It is not a good or effective look when we tell them how challenging our job is. We get to do for a living what they are choosing to do voluntarily. Our “homework” is reading books they would read for enjoyment. Etc. etc. Be careful to not use pity as a strategy.

Entitled Posture: We are not entitled to anything. It is a huge gift that committees and leaders are compelled by Christ to join us in the work God has called us to. Catch yourself and correct yourself as soon as you recognize this posture. Perhaps invite a trusted teammate to point it out to you anytime they recognize this posture in you.

Two remedies for these traps:

  1. Get to know volunteers well enough to know the complexities of their lives
  2. Serve on a local board of some sort to gain another perspective.

Grateful to be learning alongside you all.

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