by Rebecca Kocsis
So many homeschool groups are understaffed. That is one of the biggest problems group leaders face today. How do you get volunteers? Why don’t younger homeschool moms want to help out? There’s no one simple answer, but as I’ve pondered the situation, a few memories crossed my mind.
You may be interested to learn when the opportunity to serve in the homeschool community initially presented itself to me, I was not interested. Not in the least.
That’s because my experiences with some homeschool leaders were not all that great. I had some exceptional group leaders the first few years. Still, a few particularly bad situations all but erased those good impressions from my memory.
I still remember that field trip coordinator who showed up at the nature center in her camper. It was filthy. Her kids were filthy. So was she. When they piled out of the camper, or spilled out rather, so did a lot of other stuff: clothing, shoes, fast food wrappers. You name it.
Not only were they a mess, they were a noisy mess. Shouting, sassing, and sarcasm spilled out of their mouths as they spilled out of the vehicle.
And did I mention she was late? And that nobody had been able to get a hold of her so nobody really knew what was going on or when she was going to show up?
I was new to the group and this was my first event with them. Ever the optimist, I assumed they were just getting home from vacation and stopped at the field trip on the way. That would account for the camper, the mess, and the bad attitudes.
When I mentioned something about “just getting back from camping” another attendee said, “No, that’s her car.”
“She drives that everyday?” I looked around the group at the nodding heads. I was incredulous.
Getting checked in for the field trip was an education in itself. I watched a couple of moms trying to wrangle one of the leader’s small boys while she got everyone organized. It became obvious this child was out of control. He was big enough to know how to behave, but he didn’t. Maybe they had an agreement; if this gal was going to organize the excursions, she would need help with her little handful? Or more likely this was just the way they did things.
If someone didn’t watch that kid he was going to get killed. One mother in particular made sure that Mrs. Field Trip knew her son had just narrowly missed getting hit by a car. Meanwhile, the other children didn’t have any qualms about butting in and interrupting. And mom didn’t have any problem yelling at them. Needless to say, I did not do much with that homeschool group.
There was another leader who was always stressed out, and always in a hurry. She was pretty vocal about the fact that she had too much to do and too little time to do it. It looked like they were going to have to eat fast food for dinner again that night and her kids weren’t getting to bed at a decent hour. She was frustrated by and distracted by the details of her job and obviously not enjoying herself, and neither were her kids. I didn’t enjoy being around her.
Then there was the leader who was quick to tell me all of her woes; how hard she served, how late she stayed up to do her work, how she had been mistreated, misunderstood, and maligned. Why she kept serving, I’ll never know. I suppose she liked being the martyr.
Putting all of these experiences together, I developed a distinct distaste for leadership. If that’s what happened when you served, I wanted no part of it. It was too great a cost. Funny, it wasn’t the inflexible leaders, or the prideful leaders that put me off. It was the ones who were a wreck; their lives were out of order, and their families were paying the price.
Eventually the Lord got ahold of my heart and showed me an altogether different perspective of leadership. Through the example of lovely women of God, and Christ our Servant Leader, I was eventually won over.
I have to say, I haven’t run across leaders in the Support Network at all like the ones discussed here, but think about this. What type of leadership are you and your team portraying? Are you making homeschool leadership attractive? Or in any of your behaviors are you turning others off?
Are you behaving in a way that shows the great privilege of serving the Lord’s people? (Even the prickly ones.) Are you expressing to your community just how blessed it is to be where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do?
Or are you always dissatisfied?
Is there grumbling and complaining in the camp?
Are your team members accused of showing favoritism to their friends?
Is there gossip? It’s easy to fall into backbiting sessions about the more difficult people in the group.
Are there harsh critics or legalists on your team? So your moms are afraid to be transparent for fear of not measuring up?
I could go on, but I am sure that you get the picture. Perhaps now would be a good time to take stock.
Yes, there is a cost to leading. However, when our hearts are right with God and we keep our priorities in order, the blessings far out weigh the cost. That’s the unspoken signal that needs to be sent to prospective leaders and volunteers.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Galatians 5:22-23.
This article was originally published in the Feb/Mar 2015 issue of CHEA’s Support Network News.