Recently I became interested in volunteering for a military-related non-profit organization that matches mentors to new hobbyists. I’m too new to the hobby to be a mentor and I’ve already got a fabulous mentor of my own. So how else can I assist? Fundraise? Graphics? Social Media? They couldn’t really give me an answer, but a couple of suggestions were simple jobs. I’m happy to do whatever will help them…even if it’s pushing a broom or passing out flyers.
It got me thinking about the excitement and motivation of the new Christian in our churches. We tell them they are too new to teach a Sunday School or be in charge of a children’s program. We may or may not assign someone to help disciple them, but I’d venture to guess most newbie Christ followers are not relying on others to mentor them.
That new Christian is motivated in their excitement to learn…and to serve. And yet, we hand them bulletins to fold or a serving spoon for a potluck buffet line. We give them simple jobs until they are deemed worthy in experience to perform other tasks. The simple task may be exciting to the new person, but it could also be de-motivating. In essence, we tell them ‘Go Away Ms. Motivated volunteer.”
Make no mistake; I understand that there is a need to have experience in any given field to teach and/or mentor. I’m commenting on the perception that we give the newer people in any given field simplistic jobs in response to their high motivation.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NASB) states, “ Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”
This means that each of us has unique skills to offer and that those skills will impact with differing results. What is most important is that we volunteer to serve our church communities. The structure of the church lends itself to serving to be central to the growth of a Christian. The commandment of “love one another as ourselves” (Matthew 22:35-40) directs us towards love, but indirectly towards volunteering to serve.
This nicely backs up the verse in Philippians 2:4 (NASB) where we are told “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Once again God lets us know that volunteering allows us to serve others rather than our own personal interests.
When a volunteer is able to give time, talents, or tithes, they should not withhold that ability. Likewise, if they are able to serve, we should not prevent them from doing that. This is an example of Proverbs 3:27 (NASB), “do not withhold good from those to whom it is due…”
In regard to the volunteer who is new to the field…we should be supportive of their desires to serve. We should also take the time to discover their strengths and interests. We may be surprised to discover that the new person, who doesn’t have the experience to teach and mentor, may be very qualified to fulfill other roles…not just the simple ones of folding Sunday bulletins or cleaning after an event.
In the next week, I pray you are able to concentrate on scenarios when you can encourage a volunteer…rather than indirectly tell them to ‘go away.’