Tag Archives: volunteering

Resting and Being Yourself

Ever been offered an opportunity to do something you love, but your plate is already close to full? It’s hard to turn down that opportunity. It’s also hard to say no to something that needs to be done when you know no one else will do it. Life is full of things that need to be done, that are actually, in reality, optional. Examine what’s on your plate, and you will likely find things that could fall off without anyone noticing.

This past week I was asked to be on several different “teams.” All of the teams sounded great, fun, amazing. I was asked if I wanted to communicate. I love talking, writing, and sharing information. Yes! That’s for me! The kid’s team asked me to help out in the classroom. I worked with kids for six years at my old church, and it was fun. That would be an easy one for me. Maybe I should do that. The third team that approached me was the outreach team. I have been wanting to be a part of an outreach team for years, and as the team leader described the areas she envisioned us focusing on, I wanted to volunteer for them all. After receiving these three offers, I was so excited, but then reality sunk in. My past complaints about serving so much in church, included not having as much time to volunteer with other favorite non-profits, not enough time to enjoy the hobbies that help me reenergize, resenting my volunteer duties, etc. Do I really want to put myself back into that situation?

I’d like to say that when those thoughts arose, I went straight to God in prayer, but alas, I didn’t go to Him right away. Instead I went to my mom, my friends, and my sleep. You see, when I’m stressed I have nightmares, and I did. I had nightmares about losing control, feeling overworked and burdened by responsibility. Why didn’t I just go to God? You’d think I would have learned by now.

The next day, after tossing and turning all night, I did get up and pray about it. I was reminded that my blog really is my outlet for “communication” and writing. While I would enjoy time with the kiddos, maybe now is not the season to volunteer in children’s ministry. Outreach is really where I’m most passionate in this season of my life, and where I have been most passionate most of my life. I love helping people, meeting needs, and improving my community. I felt God nudge me in this direction, but I still felt so bad saying no to the Communication team and the Kid’s team. Then in a last-ditch effort God provided, not one, but a whole week’s worth of devotions on resting. Day after day I read messages that reminded me to rest my body and my mind for, not only, my physical and mental health but my spiritual health. It took me back to times when I was riddled with anxiety and stress, not that taking part in the communication and kids teams would do that, but I know myself and once I start taking on responsibility, I don’t slow down.

As a result of God’s undeniable answer to my prayer, I did contact the two team leaders for the teams I had to decline. I sent thoughtful responses and expected them to beg for my assistance despite my turning them down, but instead I was met with encouragement and understanding. Perhaps I reminded them they needed to rest too.

I believe that, as a Christian, when I truly rest, I experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent him to be our counselor, and what a gentle and kind counselor he is. He makes my spirit feel like it is lying down in a green pasture beside still waters, full of peace. It is in this time that I feel truly myself, the way God created me, a creative, kind, compassionate, quirky, funny woman. I feel free to create art, write letters, chat with friends, laugh at a favorite movie, talk to God out-loud, and totally recharge. It is in this Holy Spirit time that I “fill my tank” as my dear friend Scott would say.

When your soul is resting, your emotions are okay, your mind is okay, and your will is at peace with God, not resisting what He’s doing.    – Joyce Meyer

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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.