How to Be a Great Volunteer Part 3: Stay Until It’s Over

veri-ivanova-17904Previously in parts one and two of this series, I’ve relayed my thoughts on the importance of communication on the part of the volunteer as well as showing up on time. In today’s entry, I’d like to share my thoughts on something equally as important: staying until it’s over.

Every 2 years, I love to follow the Olympic Games. This past summer,  I sat with my family each night in our living room watching the olympics in Rio. I always really enjoy watching the swimming races, and what Michael Phelps has been able to accomplish over the course of his career has been amazing. But imagine if you can, sitting on the edge of your seat as Phelps takes the lead after the final turn in the individual medley. You’re yelling at your TV trying to get him to go even faster. He’s beginning to leave the other swimmers behind as he continues to gain momentum. But then halfway through the last lap he just stops swimming. All the other swimmers easily pass him, and he is left treading water in the middle of the pool. Sounds ridiculous, right? Of course it does, because the expectation for any olympian–particularly one as decorated as Phelps–is to finish what they start.

Your leader has no less of an expectation for you. In whatever capacity you serve, the expectation for you is to 1) show up on time and 2) stay until the job is done. For example, I’ve witnessed a number of situations where all but one or two kids will be dismissed from one of our kids’ environments, and a volunteer will go ahead and leave their post while another volunteer stays behind with the children that remain. This is unacceptable.

When we serve others, it should never be based on what is best or most convenient for us. Instead, serving others should always take into account what is best and most convenient for those we are serving. Plus, leaving early communicates much the same things as showing up late–that we don’t respect our leader, those we serve alongside, and those we serve.

So if you want to be a GREAT volunteer, stay until it’s over and finish strong. Your leader will thank you, those you serve alongside will respect you, and those you serve will see that you care about them and are putting their needs above your own. It really will make a difference.

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