One of my favourite Bible verses is Exodus 35:26, “All the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair.”
Any pastor, church leader or director of a Christian organization will immediately agree that this verse crystallizes a basic Christian theme.
Hundreds of passages in Exodus give detailed instructions on constructing the tabernacle—that great God-tent the Israelites erected in the wilderness well over 3,000 years ago—most of which refer to God-given skill and personal willingness to serve. Those goat hair spinning women were both “willing and had the skill”. That is a key combination. There is nothing quite so useless as a person who is willing but has no skills, unless it is a skilled person who is not willing to work.
It is God who gives people talents, abilities and skills and those who receive them become proficient in them with constant practice. God wants the equipped people to volunteer their expertise to serve in His work.
I have been looking for and working with skilled volunteers for forty-nine years while active in these ministries: Innisfail Baptist Church, Bible translation in Brazil, Wycliffe Canada, Wycliffe Caribbean, Wycliffe Associates, and Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.
All Christian churches and organizations run on volunteers. Sure, some have a few paid staff to function as leaders and organizers, but the on-the-ground work is done by skilled volunteers who are willing to get to work.
So, how do you get skilled people involved in a project? The same way that Moses did. He described the great God-tent in heaven he had seen in his mountain top vision. He drummed up excitement among the people to be involved in building a model on earth.
The job of leaders is to cast a great vision, to demonstrate the excitement and satisfaction of those who are already involved and to challenge them to work at something so great it is worth the cost of time, effort, danger, and hard work.
Leaders also need to look for people who have the skills and abilities the project or the organization needs. They need to specify, in detail, what kind of skills are needed, what kind of work needs to be done. Exodus is incredibly detailed!
Then from among those who are skilled leaders need to find people who are willing to volunteer. How do you do that? Simple. Ask them.
Surveyors asked volunteers in a Christian organization. “What moved you to volunteer?” Most of them responded, “Because somebody asked me to get involved.” Then they asked some potential volunteers, “Why did you not get involved?” The response, “Because I wasn’t asked.”
It may not be spinning goat hair, but we all have some skills, talents or abilities with which we can serve God. We need to be willing to use them, not to erect a God-tent in the wilderness, but to build the Kingdom of God in the world.
And leaders, you need to seek out skilled people, knock on their door, and ask. You will find, you will have doors opened and you will receive. Jesus said so.