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Are You Serving as a Volunteer or One Called of God?

Are You Serving as a Volunteer or One Called of God?

I often hear worship leaders talk about having problem with the commitment of those on their team–everything from being on time to being prepared. I firmly believe that a person’s commitment is strongly connected to the person’s sense of calling to that particular ministry. Rory Noland, in his book, The Heart of the Artist, (Zondervan) discusses the difference between those who volunteer out of obligation to serve in the church and those who feel called by God to serve. Noland says “there is a deeper level of commitment, joy, and reward with those who know their calling is from God.” He then lists differences between volunteers and those called of God.

  1. Volunteers see their involvement at church as community service, but people called of God see it as ministry.
  2. Volunteers whine about what it’s going to cost to serve, but people called are committed to serving.
  3. Volunteers shrink back from resolving relational conflict, but people called of God seek to resolve relational conflict for the sake of unity in the church.
  4. Volunteers look upon rehearsal/practice/meetings as another commitment they’re obligated to fulfill, but people called of God look forward to rehearsal/practice/meetings as another opportunity to be used by God.
  5. Volunteers do no outside practicing or preparation, but people who are called of God come ready to serve and a performance as prepared as possible.
  6. Volunteers are not open to constructive criticism; they get defensive about it.  But people called of God are grateful for feedback because they want to be the best they can be.
  7. Volunteers feel threatened by the talent of others, but people called of God praise Him for distributing gifts and talents as He chooses.
  8. Volunteers want to quit at the first sign of adversity or discouragement, but people called of God dig in and persevere.
  9. Volunteers find their main source of fulfillment in their talents and abilities, but people called of God know that being used of God is the most fulfilling thing you can do with your life.
  10. Volunteers can’t handle being put in situations in which they’re going to be stretched, but people called of God respond to God’s call with humble dependence on Him.

Take some time and focus on these characteristics. Which ones are characteristic of your life? Which ones define your approach to your role in worship ministry? Now answer this question: “Are you called or a volunteer?” Also, share this post with others to help them come to grips with what motivates them to serve.

About The Author

Kenny Lamm

Worship Consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. A frequent worship clinician and guest worship leader. Extensive work in worship renewal in several Asian countries.


  1. Cindy Martinez

    I don’t think that the difference between volunteer and called of God is necessary so mutually exclusive or black and white. I am called to minister in music; that’s the ability that God gave me. But I am still a volunteer because I am not paid and do not care to be paid. That’s what my secular job is for. I have worked with many volunteers in my life, and they have many if not all of the characteristics you listed under the “called of God” category. Be careful not to label people you don’t know and cause the very division that you are writing about.

    • Kenny Lamm

      Being called of volunteer in this article has nothing to do with whether a person receives compensation for the work they do–it is totally a heart matter. I would hope everyone that takes part in the worship ministry feels called to their position. It makes a tremendous difference in how their work is live out. Too often people equate calling to paid pastoral staff. Every child of God is called to minister and serve, not just those that receive compensation.


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