We all want to be appreciated for things we do, right? Of course we do! Anytime we hear the phrase “Good job!” or when we get that pat on the back, or even when we’re given a random gift card for a job well done, it is always great to be appreciated.
Years ago, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages.” This was written so spouses could understand how each other gives and receives love. The languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. While these love languages were originally designed for spouses, you can actually use the principles behind them to show appreciation to your ministry volunteers, as well. After all, people receive appreciation very similarly to the way they receive love.
So how do you apply the principles of the five love languages into appreciating your volunteers? Here are some ideas:
Words of Affirmation
“Good job!” Or, “We couldn’t have done this without you.” Or, “You lead a great lesson today.” Or, “I really appreciate you being on the team.” Those are all examples of ways you can verbally communicate how much you appreciate your volunteers. People who receive appreciation and love this way may also appreciate a handwritten note, a text message or a simple phone call telling them how much you appreciate them. The more you can communicate that in a variety of ways, the more they will feel appreciated.
Spending quality time with leaders could be simply taking them out to coffee and getting to know them and what is going on in their lives. Or, it could be taking them out to a theme park or the river/beach for a relaxing team bonding day. It could even be a simple cookout at your house where you enjoy time together. Whatever the options are, think of a variety of simple and fun activities you can do with your leaders throughout the year where it is just you and them together.
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Gifts seem to be the most practiced way of showing volunteer leaders you appreciate them. While this should not be minimized, as it is a way people feel appreciated, know that one gift does not fit all. For example, as popular as Starbucks is, not everyone may like Starbucks. So, giving them all a Starbucks gift card as a way to appreciate them may not be the best idea. However, giving them each a gift card to a shop or place they really enjoy is a great idea. That shows them all you know them and their interests, and they will definitely feel appreciated with that gift. Also, do not limit yourself to gift cards.
Acts of Service
Your leaders are always looking for ways they can help you and the ministry. Turn it around, and think through how can you serve them and help them out. For instance, maybe one of your leaders shared with you they have a lot of yard work to do in an upcoming week. Instead of wishing them luck on that, offer to come over and help them out for an hour or so. This way, you show them that you care about them, as people, and you enjoy hanging out with them. They will appreciate your offer to help. This is just one way to serve your team. There are a variety of ways you can choose to help out and serve your team.
This one is a tricky one, as you really can’t do this one in the way it was designed. However, an appropriate pat on the back or hand shake, all coinciding with words of affirmation, can go a long way for someone who receives physical touch as a way to know they are valued and loved.
Appreciating your volunteers is a vital way to keep your team healthy and growing. However, each leader is going to receive appreciation differently. That is why you have to get to know your leaders and how you can appreciate them in a way they will receive it. A simple gift for all the leaders will not impact them all the same way so if you can combine a few of these appreciation principles into actions throughout the year, you will have a team that not only works well together but feels valued and appreciated at the same time.
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