Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

6 Sure-fire Ways to Become a Volunteer Magnet!

 1. Watch your language
A healthy environment for volunteers is saturated with verbal honor--regular, specific praise for what they're doing. In his book The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make, Hans Finzel says, "Organizational researchers have been telling us for years that affirmation motivates people much more than financial incentives, but we still don't get it."

2. Listen more intensely
Author Stephen Covey borrowed this from St. Francis of Assisi: "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." Next to physical survival, says Covey, "the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival--to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated." He adds that when you listen carefully to another person, you give that person "psychological air." Once you've met that need, the door is open for you to influence and problem-solve.

3. Lead from the big picture
Your job isn't to serve your volunteers--it's to serve God! In the soon-to-be-classic book On Being a Servant of God, author Warren Wiersbe says, "Ministry isn't easy, but you make it more difficult for yourself if you serve people instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. You can't please everybody, so don't even try".  What great advice! And when you practice it, you'll draw your volunteers away from trivial concerns and into a much bigger mission.

4. Love by your actions
Communicate love to your volunteers by respecting their time. How often have we asked people to show up early only to have them sit around? Been wishing for 10 new hands-on volunteers?  20?  If you answered yes, what would these leaders do? Unless you can assign specific responsibilities with meaning and purpose, they'll quickly lose interest, be ineffective, and drop out.

5. Laugh a lot...with your team
Create a tradition of getting together with volunteers for fun nights. Put names of restaurants into a hat, then pick one for appetizers, one for dinner, and one for dessert--or just pick one course if you're on a budget.  These nights are sure to be highlights for your team, as long as you follow one rule: no shop talk!  It may be challenging at first, but keep each other accountable.  Focus on having fun and getting to know each other personally.  And don't forget to laugh.  It sends a strong, personal message like nothing else.

6. Let go of some of your real responsibilities
Nothing frustrates volunteers more than shoddy delegation or excessive supervision. When you delegate, give specific guidelines and expectations. But don't equate "specific" with claustrophobic oversight. Show confidence in their ability and character; step back, and let them do it.

Isn't this the truth!!

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