Recruiting Volunteers Principle #4 – Thank you for the No’s

Principle #4 – Thank you for the No’s  While We may love the yes answers we seek, but no answers are just as valuable. When someone prayerfully answers with a no, they are one step closer to discovering where they should be serving.

I love the look when I ask someone to be involved in a ministry, and after careful thought they respond with the word ‘no’ and I then respond ‘thank you’.  Some people have actually made sure they said no instead of yes.  Actually I don’t often just say thank you, I will usually say, “Thank you so much for considering this.  It meant a lot ot me that you would do that.”   The catch?  I actually mean it.  I even tell people when I recruit them that I would like them to consider something, and it’s okay to answer no to me if it’s not a fit for you.

nosIf my goal is to fill in slots to meet a deadline I won’t be thankful for the no answers I receive.  When my goal though is to help the church I serve use their gifts in ministry, then having someone consider a ministry role and whether they are a fit in it, then that’s a ‘win’. Even if they say no.   If someone gives time to ponder how to use their gifts and where they fit in the church their answer is just icing on the cake… the process of discernment is what we see as a win.

What do I do when someone says no without much thought?  I say the exact same thing as those who give thought to it.  For all I know that person has a ministry in mind or knows their gifting very well.  Even if they are answering off the cuff without any thought or knowledge of their gifting I have the opportunity to teach someone what we value as the church and to affirm that person’s value as part of our body of Christ.

Thank you’s change me as well.   If I’m recruiting for a ministry role in the fall and my success is based on filling a slot, all the no’s I could get can be discouraging and disheartening.  I’ve rewritten my expectations so when I say ‘thank you’ I mean it and I can keep searching for who God has in mind for the role that is in need.

Last, those who say no when shown appreciation for who they are over my need in recruiting are far more open to other opportunities down the road.  When I affirm their no I’m showing the value for them, and for my ministry role.  When they understand that I don’t want just anyone but I want the right person those roles can feel a bit more important.  I can tell you they’re usually listening with a more open mind next time I ask – and why not?  Maybe what I ask will be a fit for them, and if it’s not all they have to do is say no.

Thank you for the no.  That simple and probably one of the most effective tools I use when I recruit to keep me focussed on filling a ministry role and valuing those around me.