All heart, no skills – Pt 2 – Are skilled, experienced volunteers welcome?

In Part 1, we looked at the need for “heart” in ministry. When you “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself,” God can use you to do great things in spite of your limitations. Paul knew that when he was weak, he was strong in God’s grace (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Too often, though, I hear, “No previous experience is required,” or “Anyone can do this.” It sends 2 messages: (1) experience may not be wanted, and/or (2) experienced people may be working with people that have no idea what they are doing.

Let’s take a look at some examples from the Bible:

In Exodus 26-29, the Lord laid out detailed instructions for Moses to follow in constructing the tabernacle. He told Moses, “You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom” (Ex 29:3a).

Judges 7 tells us about Gideon’s army. Wouldn’t you love to have his problem? 32,000 volunteers! God let the fearful people go home. (What does that say about comfort zones??) But even 10,000 were too many. So He had Gideon set up a test – really, more like a quiz. The 300 men who stayed alert got to stay, but the others were let go.

Before David was king (knowing what God had promised, but still on the run from King Saul), David had men who volunteered to serve under his leadership. About 30 of these men distinguished themselves because of their skills and courage in battle.

Paul is sometimes used as an example of someone who misused his education and training in his misguided zeal to persecute the church. All of that background, though, came into play when it was redirected into teaching the early Christians about the Old Testament prophecies and the role of the Law.

And finally, in Acts 6, the Apostles told the people to select seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom. If we look carefully, we see that the men needed the people skills of relating and bridge-building. These are called soft skills, but they are skills nonetheless. Lots of people can serve meals; not everyone can calm an angry mob.

So what are the take-aways?
1. Don’t downplay skill or experience. Recruit it. Use it.
2. Don’t dumb-down your ministries. It’s never true that “anyone” can do things.
3. Don’t insult your volunteers. Challenge them to be and do their best.