As I write my Christmas cards I realize that many people have Big News this year: new additions to the family, just married, dream job, purchased their first home, etc. While my news is not-so-big by the world’s standards, God considers every small victory Big News. This year I can say that God has made some gradual, yet big changes in me.
Many who have known me for years would testify that I have a somewhat major addiction to volunteering, and while my time is often spent doing things for others, I had to spend this year examining why I do them. Earlier this year I heard a sermon (forgive me for not remembering exactly who gave it, but I think it was Pastor Joseph) about this very thing. It was kind of an “ah-ha” moment for me, although, like many sermon messages, it quickly slipped off my radar…until I reached the point of burn out. Oh, how I wish I could say I have only reached this point once, but it just isn’t the case. The truth is my usual cycle is volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, burn out, volunteer, volunteer, volunteer, burn out. This sermon, however, in my burned out state, made me rethink my Mission, my Motive, and my Method.
I had always thought all three were pure for me. Anytime I volunteer it is because I wholeheartedly want to. But is that really true? Let me break it down. First, I want to confess that often my mission is pure, but my motive is I see a need and I feel like no one else will meet that need so I volunteer. I admit I am both an enabler. My method was the last thing to examine. My method starts with a clear, driven plan set into motion, which more often than not ends in frustration, self-pity, and selfish pride. Now, my old thinking would have skipped over the motive part of this analysis and immediately felt that if my mission were pure then why am I feeling all of these yucky things like frustration, self-pity, and pride. And then…I would feel very, very ashamed and guilty. Each project that ended this way left me feeling burned out and resentful toward others and toward the mission itself. It wasn’t until I remembered that we must examine our motive as well. When I recognized my impure motive of enabling others that is when I was able to take a step back and ask myself before volunteering, “Is my motive pure?”
While this process is ongoing, and it will likely take many years to hone this skill, I am confident that I have a good start. Because I have many people in my life (my boyfriend, my mom, and a few close friends) I believe their accountability will help me stay focused on examining each volunteer opportunity with this new technique.
Do you have a pure mission, motive, and method? Don’t forget to examine your motive before committing to something. Perhaps God wants you to commit to that particular opportunity, but your motive isn’t pure right now. Pray before you commit. He can change your heart in ways you could never imagine.