When ostriches and ice cream cones decorate the inside of a book, you know it’s going to be not normal. About a year ago Sue Miller and Adam Duckworth released their book Not Normal: Seven Quirks of Incredible Volunteers. I even had the incredible opportunity to sit under their teaching at a local conference. When the leadership companion, Leading Not Normal Volunteers came out earlier this year, I couldn’t wait to jump right in.
If you haven’t had a chance to read their first book yet, don’t despair.
This one takes the same seven quirks and teaches you how to lead those volunteers who embody the quirks. The beginning of each section is a recap of the quirk, followed by practical steps of how you can lead your volunteers to break the status quo and become not normal. Not only do you learn how to lead others into becoming more than they can imagine, but in the process you will find yourself leading at a capacity higher than you can imagine.
When helping volunteers to Start Somewhere, your job as a leader is to help them do so! The easier it is for someone to get involved, the more people will. The better you cast the vision for what they are becoming a part of, the more they will want to participate. The more equipping you do, the more ownership volunteers will take of their ministry.
It is far too easy for volunteers to feel that their contributions don’t really matter. But when we can teach them that Small is Big, they will understand that every detail is used by God to change the lives of others. It is our job as leaders to remind them that “it takes lots of small steps to make the big things happen.” (p. 32) How do remind them? By living it out in the way we lead them. By taking the time to speak to our volunteers individually. By providing the materials they need (no questions asked!). By celebrating the small things.
Sue and Adam go on to unveil ways to give volunteers ownership in their ministry. Not doing so restricts the impact that not only volunteers can have, but the impact that your ministry as a whole can have. Operating from the truth that our ministry is bigger than any one person frees every volunteer and leader to truly serve using their unique talents and gifts. Creating a culture of honor toward the volunteers and toward our own leaders (the leaders of the leaders!) builds a foundation that is needed for any team to thrive.
Once a foundation is secure, you want to build a sustainable ministry. But you cannot do that if you don’t learn to Replace Yourself. This is undoubtedly the most unselfish action for a leader to take. Not only does it confirm that you truly believe the ministry is bigger than you, but it allows others the opportunity to experience what you have. I believe leading by example will speak volumes to your team in this area. When my team sees me living this out, they are free to try it for themselves. They will grow a team who understands that what we can accomplish multiplies when we teach someone else to do what we do.
Wherever you are in your leadership journey, keep pouring into others. Realize that God has chosen you to lead others to become all that they can be in this world. Choose to be a not normal leader. And in the words of Sue and Adam,
Lead Strong, Not Normal Leader. Lead Strong.