Solving the Leadership Gap-Look for a Passionate Smile

As I visit with our covenant partners around the country, recruiting and retaining good leadership is almost always listed near the top of their local ministry needs.  Recently, I started a series of blog articles called “Solving the Leadership Gap-" In the first article, I reminded folks that our Boomer generation is an excellent group to prospect for leadership.  Today’s topic is an important one… passion.

According to the Wikipedia article the word “Passion (from the Ancient Greek verb πάσχω (paskho) meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. 

I know as a seminary graduate, I’m supposed to feel inspired by the original Greek, but I don’t like it in this particular case.  To suffer (as in pain) does not adequately explain the experience of a volunteer. Quite the opposite, emotion that drives the volunteer to work long hours on something that moves them from compassion to a joyful passion.  They enjoy working toward changes that will benefit people in need.   Fuller Center volunteers have a passion and drive for making a change for the better.  They work to transform suffering into deliverance and freedom from the hardships of poverty.  It is the kind of stuff that makes us shout, "Oyee!!" (which comes from the heart of Africa in the Congo and is Lingala for "Right On!).  Oyee!!! Now that is an expression of passion!

How do we find passionate leaders from our voulunteer base?  I can give you a clue.  Look for an infectiously radiant smile which I believe is the hallmark of a passionate person who has found meaning and enjoyment through their volunteerism. You don’t have to tell a happy passioinate person to “smile” when you are taking their photo.  It comes naturaly because their smile is an expression of their inner spirit according to the poet Rumi who wrote:

Don’t be fooled by my beauty – the light of my face comes from the candle of my spirit.

I reviewed several articles on the topic and found some common themes about people who found their volunteer experience in harmony with their passion:

  • activity drives the organization (it is not suffering from endless meetings and “analysis paralysis”)
  • they understand the big picture, how they fit in and what the outcomes can be
  • they have clarity regarding their role in the organization (they feel effective)
  •  increased involvement opportunities exist within the organization (they feel needed)
  • the organization has a mechanism to seek their feedback and there is ample opportunity for dialogue between the volunteers and organizational leadership
  • their personal beliefs are compatible with the ethos and values of the organization

Specifically for the Fuller Center ministry, I would also add to this list:

  •  the ability to hear and literally participate in the personal stories of the families with whom we partner  

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive and perhaps some of our leaders should speak for themselves.  I asked a few of our most passionate leaders the following question:

"What puts a smile on your face as you volunteer with The Fuller Center for Housing?" 

Not surprisingly, you will notice their inspiring testimony of experiencing God joining them in their work and that the work has a long-term positive impact on the lives of the volunteers and our partner families.

Tamara Danel
 who heads up the
Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing in Hammond, Louisiana shared:

When I see God’s hand in the details, and I know that something that seems so coincidental was really a “God thing”.  He constantly brings people together through the Fuller Center’s work, who would probably never meet each other otherwise.  Whether it’s a carpenter calling to volunteer at the exact time we need one, or a volunteer deciding to mentor young people who have been sent to us to do community service, I see God’s hand in this ministry all the time.  Those things humble me and make me grateful that I serve an awesome God!

Read another great story about the good work being done by the Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing.

Jackie Goodman serves on both the board of directors of Greater Atlanta Fuller Center for Housing and our international Fuller Center board. Jackie responded:

When I volunteer with The Fuller Center, I know that I am showing God’s love through my action.  We are called to help other people, and The Fuller Center provides a wonderful opportunity to make a real difference in the life of another person.  I have always appreciated knowing that even a small action on my part, combined with the actions of other Fuller Center volunteers, makes a very big difference.  I also love the grassroots approach of The Fuller Center, and I know that when I donate money, The Fuller Center is just as frugal as I would be.  I appreciate the low overhead expenses, and I know that my money is going for the purpose for which I donated it, not for big salaries, fancy headquarters, executive travel, etc.

Judy and Verne Blalack head up an incredible program called Sillver Valley Fuller Center for Housing located in the region of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in northern Idaho.  Silver Valley is one of our host sites for our RV Builders program and they manage a successful ReUse Fuller Center thrift store. They recently held a celebration recognizing 6 families who have paid off their mortgages. Check out this story here.

Judy says, "I smile when I remember the joy of the homeowners and also the sense of accomplishment and camaraderie of the volunteers."

Verne offers, "I guess it is because I am learning so much about people & building."

Shane Persuad leads the Henry County Fuller Center for Housing in the Metro Atlanta region in Georgia which has been selected as the US host site for the Millard Fuller Legacy Build 2012.  Shane reflected:

To see how our volunteers connect with the families we help through our work.  Knowing that these acts of kindness can have a ripple effect on our volunteers and the families we help that will last for generations to come.

To read more about the upcoming plans for the 2012 Millard Fuller Legacy Build, click on this story.

Helen of Troy was known for her smile that "could launch a thousand ships."  If you fill your covenant partner committees with smiles, I promise you will change a thousand lives!

If you send me your answer to the question: "What puts a smile on your face as you volunteer with The Fuller Center for Housing?"  I’ll add your smile to the collection.

PS, just in case you were looking at the picture above and thinking Shane is looking pretty serious when he is on the job… I promise you he too has an infectious passionate smile.

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