Give Them Big Opportunities

My church originally hired me as the middle school youth minister.  My original responsibilities were pretty simple.  I just needed to create and execute an agenda for our weekly middle school gatherings.  Everything else was done by my predecessor Tom, who was transitioning into a leadership role on staff.  As time passed on I received more responsibility with recruiting, training ministers and delivering a message.  Despite having all the control I still felt like I wasn’t in the lead.  Tom was still there, and while he didn’t act like he had control I still felt dependent on his perspective.  Finally, the day came when he said, “I’m going to be out of town this week.  You have everything under control, right?”

I was definitely ready, what could go wrong?  

Leading up to that weekend was the threat of snow.  For those of you not from Baltimore that means the end of the world.  As our gathering approached I was put in the situation to make a leadership call.  Do I cancel the program or have it go?

Last week I wrote a post that asked the question, Who are your best people?”  One of the answers I provided was to: PUT THEM IN BIG OPPORTUNITIES.  It’s with those opportunities that you will discover how certain volunteers will respond to risk, and failure.  It’s in those opportunities that you can see how they delegate and whether they are right to take the reigns of leadership.  But what are those big opportunities?  Where should you expose them to risk and failure?  Here are three:

    1. TALKING IN FRONT OF A CROWD: Some people have a natural stage presence and for some people it’s just disaster.  When you put someone in front of a crowd you test how they deal with a crowd who is looking to be engaged.  Are they clear communicators?  Do they have healthy body language?  If you can find an effective communicator in your ministry, you’ll find the pressure to cast vision corporately a little lighter because now the burden is shared.
  • CREATIVE AUTHORITY OVER AN ACTIVITY: Whether it’s a game, reflection or icebreaker let them create and lead one of their own.  By giving them ownership you can see their level of creativity and how efficient they are in producing that idea.  This is a great method of figuring out who are the creatives and who are the doers on your team.  This will enable you to delegate the right tasks to the best people.
  • LEADING AN EVENT: Event planning means overseeing budgets, people and resources.  This is where you can discover how good someone is at delegating and vision casting.  A successful event is one where the benefits outweigh the costs.

In the end I cancelled the program and then it didn’t even snow.  What was a bad decision, ended up being a great learning opportunity for me.  While it wasn’t an life or death situation the pressure was great; however, I found people appreciate decisiveness if given clearly and promptly.  I also learned humility in embracing my mistakes.

When you set your ministers up for big opportunities make sure they are loved and supported.  If they flourish celebrate it.  If they fail, pick them up and move them forward.  It’s in those big opportunities that you discover more about your best people.

How are you putting volunteers in big opportunities?

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