3 Qualities of a Helpful Volunteer

 YWAM team member, Krishna, working with some of the kids at Rise Up

YWAM team member, Krishna, working with some of the kids at Rise Up

Our Yebo Life team has had the amazing opportunity to serve alongside people from all over the world, and this week, we want to highlight three qualities that we’ve observed in every volunteer that has left a positive mark on this city and its people.

1. Relational

We love when people come to Cape Town with relationships in mind, as our work is very much relationship-based! Since the beginning, Co-Founder Tony Barwick constantly encourages our team to stay focused, first and foremost, on the leaders we serve. So when volunteers arrive in Cape Town with the desire to build relationships, they often fit into our team seamlessly—whether they're here for a few weeks or a few years!

Being relational doesn't require that you're an extrovert. It just means that you should intentionally seek to get to know people and their culture. This effort will go a long way in showing others that you care enough to learn about the reality of their lives. This does not mean that you won’t make mistakes as you go along! In fact, many do make mistakes as they build relationships with people from a different culture. Nonetheless, people are often forgiving, especially when intentions are good. So, put yourself out there and give it a try!

2. Teachable

Great volunteers typically have a deep desire to both 1) help/serve in anyway they can and 2) undergo personal transformation and growth. A few ways these desires will manifest is through one's openness to:

  • doing things differently than he or she would at home,
  • receiving constructive feedback and asking for clarification if needed, and
  • participating in the local systems, rather than trying to "fix" the environment by implementing his or her own.

Volunteers that openheartedly "jump into" the systems currently in use often find that there is a rhyme and a reason to how things are done. This is not to say that things cannot or should not be improved, but simply that there's much to be learned by doing things as they are before attempting to add value by changing the system.

For example, let's say a ministry keeps track of attendance and physical wellbeing on a manual spreadsheet. At first glance, this method may seem inefficient, but there could be reasoning behind it. While using a tablet may be a more productive way of tracking records, it's also more costly and will require training—not to mention the sky high theft rates in many communities around the world. Instead of investing in electronics that'll streamline processes, buying more food for the hungry or sending more children to school could be a better use of the ministry's funds.

Our point is twofold: Desiring to help a ministry improve is not a bag thing—in fact, Yebo Life is all for making things "better!" Still, it's vital to first learn why things are done the way they are before discussing alternatives, because "better" here could look drastically different from "better" there.

You see, 99.9% of the time, it's actually the local leaders who carry deep within them the answer to the question, "What is the best way to do it in this community?" That's what we, together through relationship, need to uncover.

3. Passionate

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion,” and we tend to agree with him. Volunteers that are able to translate their passion into action are amazing!

What is your passion and how have you been called to share it with the world? We love these questions that John Maxwell asks to help narrow it down:

  1. If you inherited so much money that you would never have to work again, what would you do?
  2. What would you never give up because you love it so much?
  3. What hobbies have you pursued over the years and why?
  4. What are you naturally good at—so good that other people compliment you?
  5. When others consult you for advice, what do they ask you about?
  6. What are you curious about?
  7. What do you do better than anything else?

It’s often said that you don’t find passion; you pursue it. And often, passions require trade-off. Whether it's time, money, or location, we must give what we have in order to receive the life we've been called to. Christians who are walking out their callings have allowed God, not man, to define success, and the payout is a life to the full (John 10:10).

Nelson Mandela summed it up well when he said, “There is no passion to be found in playing it small—in settling for a life that is less than the one that you are capable of living.”

We love seeing our volunteers grow through following Jesus to Cape Town! If you or someone you know would like to work with us, please email catherine@yebo-life.com. You can also learn more about our volunteer opportunities here.

Source: John Maxwell