Go Away “Ms. Motivated Volunteer”

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.’

~Emily


To Serve or to be Seen

As a person who’s grown up in church, I’ve grown accustomed to seeing people serve in some capacity.  You volunteer for the nursery.  You donate time as an usher.  Maybe you’re part of the prayer team or the clean-up crew.  There are so many ways to give time in service to your local church and community.  The opportunities are endless.

There are many verses in the bible that speak to serving.

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the multifaceted grace of God.” –1 Peter 4:9-10

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters himself will be watered.” –Proverbs 19:17

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” –Ephesians 2:10

We are told to serve without complaint, to please God, and to bring Him glory.  My question to each of us serving is this:

Are we doing it to serve or to be seen?

Today’s society says ‘Look at me!  Look at what I’m doing to help!’ Everything that we see on social media screams out how good we are, how kind we are, how much help we gave when we service others.  But is that the kind of service God desires of us?

Please know that I’m not excluding myself from this question.  I find myself often having to stop and question my motives.  Am I doing this particular thing because God commands me to love, to help, and to assist, or am I doing it because it feels good to get the ‘attaboy and kudos for stepping up to the plate and serving someone or some way?

I also have to think about the way that I’m serving.  Am I skipping out on the potentially thankless job of janitorial work at the church or the tiring job of rocking a crying baby in the nursery, instead opting for the fun and noticed roles?  Am I choosing to snap an Instagram photo of me paying for a homeless man’s coffee instead of leaving an anonymous gift card for groceries for the family who’s mother just lost her job?

I’m not saying that those acts of service are not good.  Nor am I saying that they’re wrong.  What I’m asking us to examine is whether our motives are to really serve God or to be seen for our works.

I pray that my motives are never for the need to be seen.  God tells us in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

I pray that as we serve, dear friends, it’s to serve God and not ourselves. 

~Erin