Top Ways to Motivate Volunteers

This is our busy season. We are a small church in a small town, yet we do several community service projects throughout the year, but especially October through December. So I call it our busy season. This requires working with many volunteers. Getting everyone working together and on the same page is tricky. Yes, even for Christians!

Almost everything Gary and I do with people involves our knowledge of personality types. Back when we started, The Four Temperaments was the popular assessment. Since then we’ve learned the Myers-Briggs, C.O.R.E. MAP, and even Enneagram assessments. But by far the easiest to apply and remember is temperaments. Learning this helps me understand why others don’t think the same way I do. It helps me consider how I get volunteers to know what we are trying to accomplish and why.

Community service projects are so important to the healthy life of a small group. God tells us to serve others. He wants us to grow in compassion and empathy with others. It’s an excellent way to let the light of Jesus shine in the world. And to show unconditional love (that means serving someone without any expectation from them) to non-Christians is the best. Anything can become a service project from passing out cold bottles of water on a hot day to painting someone’s house.

When a small group has taken the time to discuss community needs, choose a project to focus on, and motivate everyone to participate, having enough volunteers won’t be a problem. Our biggest project during our busy season is our Thanksgiving Dinner Delivery. For weeks we canvas the town with flyers with a number to call to receive a free hot turkey dinner (including dessert) on Thanksgiving morning. We have volunteers collecting food and money, baking desserts, deboning and cooking dozens of turkeys, and gathering on Thanksgiving morning to cook a full meal. Next we form an assembly line where other volunteers who have collected the names and addresses hand off the assembled meals to driving teams to deliver over 300 meals. And we are done serving, have cleaned up the rooms, and gone home before noon.

Our ability to do this and other projects is because we motivate both the extraverts and introverts. The goal oriented people buy in, as well as the party people. The thinkers and the emotional relators all participate. Everyone gets stretched just enough to be challenged, yet works within the areas they are most comfortable.

Meeting the needs of the four temperaments will motivate every person in your small group. Here’s how:

  • Sanguines in your group need to have a good time serving God. During discussion times and especially during the service project, make your time together as fun as possible. Plan your schedule to allow joking around and showing appreciation. Smile at everyone. Diffuse emotional upsets.
  • Cholerics need to have a specific measurable goal. So for our project, we gave them research on the need for Thanksgiving day meals delivered, we laid out the complete plan of how we were going to accomplish this; and we told them what a successful Thanksgiving dinner delivery day looked like. They are happy to participate and meet these goals.
  • Melancholies need to understand the cause you are serving. As we made plans, we discussed often how shut-ins and families who couldn’t buy or cook a Thanksgiving dinner were blessed by our efforts and attention. The melancholy types couldn’t wait to sign up to deliver the meals.
  • Phlegmatics in the group wanted to see the relationships grow. These people want to spend time with someone else in the group, getting to know them better as they serve side by side.

Even if disaster strikes during one of your community service projects, if you meet your team’s needs to have fun, have set measurable goals, know the cause you are serving, and can grow together as a church family, your volunteers will be ready to serve again when the time comes.

Try this, and let me know how your next group project works out, won’t you?

How to Create the Perfect Birthday

The more years my friends and I have under our belts, the more we realize the importance of celebrating one’s birthday. As moms, we have no problem thinking about and planning our child’s special day, but how do we feel about our own birthdays?

God wants us to rejoice that we are awesome and wonderfully made (Ps. 149:14). Often though, declaring you want to be celebrated to family and friends feels prideful and selfish. On the other hand, having a husband or friend plan our day can be filled with missteps. So would should we do?

My belief is that God creates each one of us with a purpose (or sweetspot) in mind. Our discovery of that sweetspot is foundationally important. To do that, we have to know ourselves. To celebrate and be grateful for who God made us to be by making a birthday special is easy and soul-satisfying.

My secret to having a great birthday? Before the day comes, I think about what feels important to me right now. What do I value? What am I passionate about today? And I mold my day around that.

Maybe I want to enjoy a great meal with my husband or a friend, or a group of friends. Maybe I’ve been longing for a new purse. Perhaps seeing drawings or letters from my children or grandchildren would make me smile. I might want to spend the day reading because it’s been too long since I’ve had the chance. But by the end of the day, I want to write in my journal how grateful I am for spending the day how I wanted.

When I’ve decided on how I want to spend the day, I let family and friends know about it. Give up thinking your loved ones should be able to read your mind and know what would make you happy. Spell it out for them. And let’s talk about gifts. Don’t we love to have our children make those lists or tell us all about what they want? Our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. Jesus was clear we are to love others as we love ourselves, so we have to love ourselves. There’s nothing selfish about wanting to enjoy your birthday. And if the actual date is filled with responsibilities you can’t change, choose the closest free day to it and make a loud announcement: “I’m celebrating my birthday on Saturday this year!”

Anyway, that’s how we celebrate birthdays around this house. How about you?

7 Lists to Make When You Feel Overwhelmed

Feeling overwhelmed can creep up on you when you’ve had a few days of putting out one fire after another. Or the feeling suddenly hits after streaming through news reports on this crisis. Either way, when I get overwhelmed, here are 7 lists I make to help me feel better.

  1. Gratitude list. Listing everything from having my favorite coffee (or plenty of toilet paper) to knowing my family members are staying safe makes me realize my life isn’t as bad as I thought.
  2. Three quick chores I can knock out. When I feel overwhelmed, I generally think I’m spinning my wheels. Choosing to make my bed (2 minutes), clear off a kitchen counter (3 minutes), and pay one bill (5 minutes) and bam–ten minutes later I feel productive and ready to see what else I can get done.
  3. Name 5 people I enjoy talking to on a post-it near my phone.  Talking to that one person who makes me laugh lightens my load just enough to keep going. Calling up that old friend instead of punching the like button on a post can change everything about my day.
  4. Write down on my family calendar the 5 easiest meals I can make or order. No, these aren’t the healthiest meals, but the fastest ones. Pizza-Grilled Cheese-Canned Pasta–Burgers and fries get written into the calendar, and I’ve gained five days of freedom from supper planning and cooking. Some weeks the mental health is more important than the physical health.
  5. Ten fun things I can do in ten minutes of free time. No, I can’t binge watch a show when I’m overwhelmed, but I can watch cat videos, work on a puzzle, read, take a quick nap or a hot shower as a reward once or twice during a tough day. Writing those things on my To Do List will make me smile.
  6. The Everything List. Sometimes that feeling comes from having a running list filling up and spilling over in my brain. If I stop and write down every single thing I think I have to do, or think I want to do in a given day I realize how ridiculous I’m being and give myself a break.
  7. Write down the 1 Bible quote that makes me feel better right now on as many post-its as I have rooms and put one in every room. God has an encouraging word or promise for everything I’m feeling. Some days I have little time to pray or read my Bible, but I can read 1 verse, and ask God for that 1 verse, and that’s enough to see me through.

There you have it. Some practical. Some simple. Some supernatural. Try them, and tell me what works for you.

Life changing ways to survive Corona Virus 2020

I have been waiting weeks…no months…no years…to write my first blog post. When did I finally find the time? During these weeks of shelter in place in the spring of 2020. We will remember this year, won’t we?

I know my daughters will. My Texas rose will remember losing her management job at a high-end hotel. She is grateful to have more time at home with her three teenagers, but has cried tears over the many many friends losing jobs in the hospitality industry. Her faith in God makes her an inspiration to them all. My Georgia peach will remember homeschooling two daughters while caring for her other two preschoolers and trying to run a business online–without ever being able to get away with friends, or even take the girls out somewhere to play. Almost daily she posts encouragements to friends on Facebook.

I will remember deepening my prayer life, finally getting procrastinated projects done, delving into art and reading, and oh, yes…finally getting around to starting my blog to encourage Christian women to allow God into their lives a little more, inspire them to be their true selves, help them form healthy relationships, coax them into creative expression, and build their leadership skills.

I am praying for the sick and the well right now to get through this time of crisis. I am praying for our government leaders and our health care personnel. I am praying for God’s grace on our country, and for anyone afraid to be comforted by the Great Comforter.

What do you mean, Christian?

I cannot talk about myself and what I think, feel, and experience without referring to the fact that I’m a Christian. The title “Christian” is a very loaded word. In truth, it means different things to different people…everything from “I go to church on Sundays” to “I believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible”.

So when I say I’m a Christian and that will affect what I write some may think, “I’ll see things her way” and some “She’s judgmental and narrow-minded”. The term can no longer stand on it’s own. When the term was first used with the early church, it meant “those are the people who love each other so much all they want to do is spend time together and pray for and take care of people.” Yes, they believed God created the universe and Jesus was His begotten son, but even demons proclaimed Jesus was the son of God (Luke 4:41). It was the people who acted as Jesus did who were called the Christ-ones.

I believe the most outstanding characteristic of God (and Jesus) is love. I try to read my Bible often to see what it says about God’s love and how I should express love. And throughout the Bible, God included information about love in every relationship: with God and believers, God and unbelievers, between parents and children, employees and employer, between friends, between enemies, within families, with strangers, with the Godly and the ungodly, with neighbors, with the world.

It has taken me a long time to understand and walk out what I’ve learned about love from God. And there is so much I still have to learn. Calling myself a Christian in no way means I think I know everything about the Jesus I follow. God is other. He is part of a spiritual realm that is mainly a mystery to us until we get to the other side. I could learn tomorrow that I’m wrong about something I believe today.

As I’ve mentioned, the first C in Circle Sisters stands for Christian Living. Put another way, I’m going to share how I live as a Christian. You don’t have to take what I share as gospel (see what I did there?), but I’d like you to hear me out whether you see things as I do or not. And if you comment, we can dialog about it.

What goes around comes around…

Years ago I started a little group of women who came together to be creative and encourage each other in our Christian walk. The group disbanded after a time, but the name lived on in my mind. In my over forty years of ministry I’ve wanted to create a space where women could receive help in Christianity, inspiration, relationships, creativity, leadership, and encouragement…and that spells CIRCLE. We create a circle when we pass around to others all that God has taught us.

Each post will be a way of my giving to you; spurring you on toward good works (as the Bible puts it). I hope whatever you glean will be passed along, and that you will post comments–your way of giving back to me and in effect, closing the circle.

On my desk sits a framed quote from Cyril Connolly. Better to write for yourself and have no public than write for the public and have no self. My writing has always reflected this. I stay true to myself and who I believe God has called me to be, and that includes anything I write. So when I say something here, you can count it being what I truly think. I might not say everything perfectly, but it will be from my heart.

I have engaged in many types of writing over the decades, some published, some not. This is a new endeavor in writing for me. I share a love/hate relationship with technology so I’m on a learning curve with how to set up and maintain a website and blog. I hope to post twice weekly. I hope to keep to a Tuesday-Friday schedule, but as today’s date will show, sometimes my tech abilities don’t cooperate. I hope to prove you’re never too old to learn a new skill.

I invite you on this journey with me. I invite you to try something new in your own life. Be brave. Be bold. For The Lord Our God is with us. Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its own purpose. Proverbs 16:3-4

Thanks everyone.

Sunday’s Coming

Tony Campolo made popular the phrase “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” The Bible points out that while Christ was in the tomb, his spirit went to Hell to set the captives free and take back the keys of the kingdom from Satan. He was there for three days before the Resurrection. He wasn’t idle. He wasn’t chilling out. He wasn’t even biding His time before the moment He would rise again. He was accomplishing His purpose. He was continuing to do what He started out to do on earth–giving sinners access to the Heavenly realm. Those 3 days were important to the Father’s plan. Jesus was not sad. Jesus was not worried. Jesus was being the person He said He was.

Those same 3 days were darkness, confusion, lament, grief, disruption, and paralyzing for the disciples. Though it shouldn’t have been. Jesus spent three years telling them what was going to happen. His whole life was explaining how it was Friday, but Sunday’s coming. Good news is coming. Resurrection is coming. The promise is coming. The answer is coming.

We may experience many Fridays in waiting out the Corona virus, but Sunday will come and we will walk out our doors again into our busy lives. As Jesus said, I want to be about my Father’s business, and no less during these days of darkness and confusion, than when the light of the Resurrection comes.

I pray this Easter is personally meaningful for all of us.

Next week I will finally explain why this site is called Circle Sisters.