I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of value. Value is so very important to the health of individuals and the success of organizations and ministries! It’s my belief that most volunteers don’t leave ministries, they leave leaders. Typically, they leave leaders who don’t express value.
If you’re a senior pastor, a youth pastor, a boss, a ministry leader, someone who oversees volunteers, or simply a human being who wants to be better at valuing others, here are seven specific ways to demonstrate to others that you value them.
1. Genuinely care more for the person than what the person can offer you and/or your organization. Many leaders view people as assets. They relate to people in terms of “what they do for me.” While it may be natural and typical for an employee/employer relationship, it’s not beneficial. Value is communicated when you genuinely care for people as human beings and not human “doings” (and what they can do for you to help you build your kingdom).
2. Give feedback. As a leader, your constructive feedback is a vital component for an individual to feel valued. Most followers are desperate for validation and they want to be recognized for their contribution. They’ll follow, work, and give their heart if they feel like they’re following someone who cares enough about them to give them feedback about their contribution. When you take the time to give specific feedback (even if it’s occasionally negative/constructive), you are adding to their personal sense of value. It’s not unusual for a person to work for, serve, volunteer years of service and not get any specific and personal feedback from their supervisor. It’s not unusual, but it’s definitely tragic.
3. Affirm, affirm, affirm. This should go without saying, and unfortunately, many times it does. I know leaders will say, “She knows she’s important to me.” Really? When was the last time you told her? It ought to be often! This is such a basic principle that it’s almost embarrassing to write, but I find it so rare in leaders that it’s worth mentioning and repeating.
4. Take interest in their interests. I have a friend who has worked for and traveled with his boss for several years and his boss never asks him personal questions. My friend said, “You’ve asked me more about myself during this lunch than he’s (my boss) asked me in 5 years.” Sad. If I know you’re interested in me, and I know you care (see #1 above), then I know that I’m more than a pawn in your strategy to move forward. Your interest beyond “the job” communicates value.
5. Do the “little things.” The people who work for and/or serve you (or your ministry) have real lives outside of the “job.” When you acknowledge this reality you communicate value. It’s the little things that send a big message: a card on their birthday, remembering their kids’ names, sending the spouse a gift (flowers or gift certificate) when you’ve received “above and beyond” service from his or her spouse, an invite to share a meal with no agenda, an occasional “I appreciate you” letter/gift. These are relatively small actions, but they communicate big value!
6. Give them access to your life. All of these tips communicate something more than an employer/employee relationship. Typically, those who follow you, if they feel cared for by you, will also want to spend time with you away from the office/ministry. When you do life with others and invite them into “your world,” you once again communicate that life is more than simply working on “your agenda.” Whether it’s sharing meals together, jogging together, watching TV or sporting events together, the key word is “together” and it screams, “I value you and our relationship.”
7. Make efforts to maximize strengths. Great leaders are always looking to develop others. Selfish leaders use their volunteers’ time and efforts in order to enhance or promote themselves, without giving much, if any, thought to replenishing and growing the volunteer. You make a huge statement of value when you seek to maximize the skills, gifting, and strengths of the individual you are leading. The wise leader is continually asking this question (spoken or unspoken) about her or his volunteers: “How can I help you maximize your gifts so you are most fulfilled?” The answer to that question may lead to a place where you lose that person’s service to you. While this reality may not be the best result for you, it’s the best for the individual—and this, perhaps, is the most meaningful dynamic in showing others that you value them.
Many leaders are self-focused.
Many leaders use people.
Many leaders build their kingdom at the expense of others.
Don’t be this type of leader!
Value others and enjoy the benefits of being around people who feel valued.
Don’t just say you value others—show it!