Years ago, I read “The 5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. The title was fascinating and I wanted to learn more. Not only did I want to learn how to best show love to my husband, I wanted to learn more about the way I best receive love. The findings weren’t astonishing – I already knew – but I could give it an “official” title.
If you are not familiar with The 5 Love Languages, allow me to give you a brief description of each:
Words of Affirmation: Use words to affirm other people.
Acts of Service: For these people, actions speak louder than words.
Receiving Gifts: It’s not the price or extravagance of the gift; it’s the thought behind it.
Quality Time: Give people your focused, undivided attention.
Physical Touch: Use appropriate touch to lift someone’s spirits
Since the first book, there have been subsequent books, including “The 5 Love Languages of Children”, “The Five Love Languages of Teenagers”, just to name a few. The author also penned a book called “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”. According to their website, this book gives “practical steps to make any workplace environment more encouraging and productive”.
I’d like to offer that as kidmin leaders, one of our goals should be to make our ministry environments more encouraging and productive. How? By creatively loving on our volunteers as often as we can. What if we loved our volunteers in ways that they would best receive it? What if we moved away from “one size fits all” volunteer appreciation? After all, if we don’t properly care for our volunteers, who will?
Show your volunteers how much you care by speaking their love language. Below are a few ideas to help get you started:
Words of Affirmation:
- Praise your volunteers publicly, in front of other people.
- Write notes to them, affirming them in how they are an invaluable member of your team.
- Write notes to their family, thanking them for sharing their family member with your ministry and the impact they are having.
- Catch them in the act and mention to them how they made the right call, gently spoke to a child, made the Bible story come alive, etc.
Resource: DaySpring provides free e-cards you can send to your volunteers to let them know how much you care.
Acts of Service:
- Take them a meal when they are sick, have a baby, etc.
- Offer to babysit volunteer’s children so that your volunteer can enjoy a date night with their spouse, a day of pampering, or a day of solitude with the Lord.
- Run an errand for them.
- Prepare their supplies for an upcoming lesson.
- Love them enough to give them the Sunday off when needed.
Resource: Make a coupon book for volunteers for them to use in redeeming “services” (with advance notice, of course!).
- Give volunteers their favorite piece of candy, a gift card to their favorite restaurant or a gift card to their favorite coffee shop.
- Frame their favorite scripture verse in a beautiful picture frame.
- Put together an electronic photo album, showcasing your volunteer in action. (I love Smilebox.)
- Frame a picture of your volunteer in action.
- Frame a picture of your volunteer’s class or team.
- Have the volunteer’s make a handmade gift.
Resource: Find out your volunteer’s “Favorite Things” by asking them. Here’s a free form to get you started.
*Disclaimer: Keep appropriate boundaries when interacting with someone of the opposite sex.
- Take your volunteers out for coffee or meal just to chat and get to know each other outside of church.
- Call your volunteer and ask how you can pray for them. Pray for them right over the phone.
- If you share a hobby with a volunteer, do that hobby together – bake cookies, go fishing, take a class, paint a room, plant a garden, etc.
- Serve together in a cause that you’re passionate about.
- Read a book together and discuss it.
*Disclaimer: Use appropriate touch, especially toward the opposite sex. I am a hugger by nature, but a rule of thumb that I follow is that I do not hug my male volunteers. I have a completely hands-off policy for male volunteers.
- Give a hug to a hurting volunteer of the same gender.
- You could also give fist bumps, a high-five or a special handshake.
Brainstorm additional ideas to help each volunteer feel loved and appreciated in ways that would mean the most to them.
What ideas would you add to the list?