I was making my rounds following the 11 AM service to saying ‘Thank You’ to all of my small group leaders.
I entered the classroom of our 5th grade boys and I shook Guy’s hand and said ‘Thank You’.
I started to release from the handshake but Guy hung on to my hand, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Stop saying Thank you”.
What? Is that what he said?
Yep that’s what he said.
Then he followed it up with, “I like leading this group. You don’t need to thank me.”
I learned a valuable lesson that day.
If I say “Thank you” too often it loses its power.
A genuine thank you is always appreciated, but habitual thanks can seem insincere.
Additionally I have found that praise can be more powerful than saying, “Thank you”.
In other words, when you catch your volunteers doing something exceptional make a big deal about it.
I vividly remember my infamous first Sunday teaching in children’s church.
I was 19 years old and I was serving at a church that was experiencing tremendous growth.
The children’s pastor asked me to help in the preschool class which had eighty 3, 4, and 5-year olds in one big room.
Jeanne (the lead teacher) took one look at my fearful disposition and put me out of my misery with the statement, “Why don’t you just watch today?” I nodded my head in relief. After class Jeanne gave me an assignment, “I want you to watch this filmstrip.” (This was in 1978, long Pro Presenter, Media Shout, DVD’s and even VHS.)
“I like the art on this filmstrip, but I don’t like the story. I want you to rewrite the story and tell it next week.’”
I was pumped!
I had been in training for six weeks and this was my first time to get up in front of the kids.
I began my preparations for the big day.
One week later I found myself stunned, standing at the front of the class, staring back at the faces of 78 distracted kids and two that were slightly interested.
I totally lost the class. Not knowing how to stop and ask the kids to be quiet, I just kept telling my story and turning the knob on the filmstrip projector.
Negative thoughts raced through my mind. “This is not your calling,” and “You stink at this.” I was only at the starting gate and I was already set to quit.
After class Jeanne approached me with genuine excitement and said, “Oh, you did so well!”
“Yes,” she said, “you told the story from your heart. We can really use you!”
I understand now that I didn’t do a great job telling my story that day.
I know a lot more about storytelling today; however, if Jeanne had tried to bring correction I might have quit before I got started.
Jeanne saw something of value inside of me and knew that I needed encouragement on that first day.
Catch your volunteers doing something right and praise them for it.
When you do this the ‘thank you’ is understood.
If you genuinely praise people for doing good it motivates them to do more and it creates an emotional bond with you.