Volunteer Stages Model

The following model is proposed by Haski-Leventhal and Bargal (2008) as a model for understanding the organizational socialization of volunteers. It outlines the stages and transitions between stages.

volunteering-stages-model

A couple of days ago, I listed the stages of this model on Twitter/Facebook and received a comment that I “forgot the part about absolute burnout between established volunteer and retirement!” Unfortunately, I think the author of that comment is right on. Notice the renewal component has three outcomes – a return to emotional investment, retiring or exiting. In Christian ministry, two of those three are conditionally acceptable. If someone returns to a place of emotional investment, that will likely be an exciting and fruitful time in his/her ministry. If someone retires to move onto to a new realm of ministry, that will also be an exciting time (notice I say retire from one ministry to a new one – Christians should never retire from doing the Lord’s work, we may just be changing venues for doing so. For more on this, read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper).

It is that third option that concerns me and concerned the author of the comment above. Too often, people leave because they are burned out and used up. They have been insufficiently trained and unappreciated. When Christians volunteer their time, they are fulfilling the very call of God on their life to minister his grace to others. That should be celebrated and appreciated and Christians leaders should do everything within our power to foster growth in that person and equip him/her for the task at hand. Unfortunately, too many people get out because they are burned out. May we as Christian leaders, grasp the life cycle of the volunteers entrusted to us and learn how to best minister to them at each stage of the cycle.

Interact: What is the best training or appreciation you have ever received from a Christian leader you served with? How did it encourage you to continue in your service?

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