Loving Volunteers – review
Loving Volunteers: Leading for the Love of it – and Inspiring Others to Do the Same, by Richard Steel, January 2011, Grove Books, 30 pages, ISBN 978-1851747825, RRP £3.95
This little gem of a book is an insightful read for leaders of volunteers, including those who lead in a paid capacity, and also for volunteers themselves. It helps us to reflect on our own motivations for volunteering and leading, our volunteering practice and the challenges faced by others with whom we volunteer.
Its title “Loving” Volunteers, rather than simply motivating, inspiring or leading them, is carried through the book, with the servant leadership of Jesus given as an example that Christians are called to follow. As somebody who has volunteered and led volunteers for a number of years, with all of the joys and frustrations that it brings, I found that this book helped me to focus more on myself. For example, rather than fixating on the shortcomings of other volunteers, what might I have done to contribute to a difficult situation? How might I better strive to embody servant leadership?
The experience of the author, Richard Steel, Rector of Kirkheaton and Rural Dean of Almondbury, shines through in the many examples he gives, and the interspersing of quotes from people with whom he has worked and interviewed gives this book a grounded wisdom. In a clear and compassionate way, the book covers such areas as the importance privileging of relationships above processes and systems, the crucial role of thanks and praise where it is due at the same time as not shying away from honest appraisal, concern for the personal development of those we lead, leadership as a quality of a team rather than any one individual, and awareness of where our own egos may stand in the way of helping a team and others in the team from reaching their goals and achieving their potential. I found the section on generational differences in approaches to volunteering particularly interesting and helpful.
Finally, I am struck that to love volunteers also means to accept God’s love for us and to love ourselves.
I look forward to the full length book, which is currently in preparation.
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Comments on "Loving Volunteers – review"
How can involvement assimilate that I can learn from your organisation - and what as an artist/writer my skills can be of use to you? Theology a big interest - also musical as I play flute. Journalist who writes art reviews and views pieces about housing, environmental and nuclear power safety. Worked with children in play projects after school, and active gardener with various jobs in London and Northern Ireland; Belfast. I also painted murals for families and organisations in Manchester, Coventry, Iona Abbey, New Cross London; and stained glass for a Birmingham home, and a church in Notting Hill - but love ceramics more!
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