I remember the night before I attended the first Vision Gathering of Saddleback Church South Manila. These were actually the words that I typed in my (other) digital diary:
It’s past midnight now, and yes, I’m still wide awake. I recently received an invitation to volunteer, to work with fellow Christians, former church mates to set up a ministry in the South. I have been thinking about serving in a ministry, yearning so much for it, but I wasn’t sure where or how. All I know is it doesn’t necessarily have to be directly connected with the church I am currently attending. As for what to do and which of my talents or skills to use, I’m sure I’ll figure out what God would want me to do along the way. Who knows, He might reveal to me another area of strength I never knew existed before.
I’m sure it’s going to be fun; even if it would entail hard work, it would be fulfilling. At the end of the day, I would want to be able to say that I have shared something worthwhile with others. At the end of the day, I want my children to realize that we are here to serve one another and God gave us talents or resources to build each other up and further His kingdom. At the end of the day, I would like to be a good role model for my daughters. – 5 April 2014, 1:19AM
Looking back, I believe that God has indeed placed me where I could really serve, utilize my talents, grow, and see my children grow in knowledge of Him and start new friendships that matter deeply to them, too. I am happy to see the growing number of volunteers and members at Saddleback Church South Manila (Saddleback SMLA) as well as its growing number of followers in various social media sites, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To date, our social media efforts have already attracted the local blogosphere and social media industry that the head of our Marketing Communications Ministry (MarCoM) is now being invited to various seminars to talk about our goals and strategies. Most of all, I am glad that my children have expressed their desire to be baptized, with my eldest also asking to become a volunteer at the church’s Sunday School.
Now here are some reasons I believe you should consider rendering volunteer work, too.
1. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). If you enjoy Jesus’ parables, then you must be familiar with this story. It has been a driving force for me not to be complacent, but always find ways to learn new things, to serve, and to grow. I fear that my talents would be taken away if I do not use them, just like in the parable, and experience God’s immense displeasure! I’ve also known that God created me for a purpose, He gave me talents or skills for a purpose and keeping them to myself is not one of them. No, I was certainly not created to just breathe, take space, make noise, gain weight, then die! (If you’d like to know about your purpose, I suggest you read the Bible as well as “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.)
2. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). As a Christian, I am not only drawn to Christ, but I was also commanded to let others know about Him. Yet, even before I truly began to understand the meaning of The Great Commission, I had always envisioned myself doing missionary works when I was younger. In fact, I used to help organize outreach programs when I was in college and taught Sunday school to street kids when I became a Christian. However, I have also realized that I do not necessarily have to go to some depressed or far-flung areas to teach people about God. I can help enlarge His Kingdom with the use of the mighty pen–or fingers, I should say–and the Internet.
3. Volunteering helps me become a better person (Proverbs 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33). Who wouldn’t want to meet wonderful, talented, passionate individuals, who also love to serve God and the community? That’s like having ideal workmates that you don’t normally meet in the corporate world, right? And we know how important it is to be in the company of good people, too! Okay, not all of them are always wonderful–in Tagalog, tao lang–but I have to respect my co-volunteers for their passion, talents, and willingness to serve. And for someone like me, who stays home most of the time now, working with such individuals is like being sharpened all the time – something that we all need in order to grow. In the process, my leadership and interpersonal skills also continue to be developed.
4. Volunteering helps me realize how work is truly an act of worship (Ephesians 6:7). You see, working from home or volunteering from home during my spare time is one thing. But having to go out, get stuck in traffic, deal with unpleasant PUV drivers and sweaty passengers, and not even be reimbursed for transportation, communication, or food expenses, not to mention I still have to meet deadlines and there are times when I even have to drag my daughters with me? Wow, that’s altogether another story! I could only thank God for His provisions, my husband’s full support, and the fact that I actually enjoy what I am doing. Believe it or not, despite all those things, I’d still experience a sense of fulfillment, and to me that’s what really matters – that’s when I could truly say that my work is an act of worship! More, because I get to bring my children with me at times and they see the fruits of my labor, they begin to understand that working does not always equate to getting paid and amassing wealth; rather, work in general is one way to worship God and serve others.
5. Volunteering helps strengthen my marriage (Hebrews 10:24). My husband and I met at a church, where we were both members and volunteers for its DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) program. My husband’s one of the most talented and generous persons I’ve ever known. If you ask him to do something–and normally he could because he’s very talented and knowledgeable in so many areas–you could expect him to do it, especially if we could work together. Hence, volunteering, especially with my husband’s full support, makes me feel that we are partners not only in marriage, but we continue to be partners in various ministry works as well (just like the old times), not to mention we get to talk about more topics aside from our kids, finances, and home improvement plans. Lastly,
6. By volunteering, I hope to influence my children to become good servant leaders someday (Galatians 6:9). Our society seems to be badly in need of God-fearing leaders. I probably cannot do much about this situation now, but there’s always the next generation that I know I can invest in. And, as a parent, I have a huge responsibility to be a good role model to my children. I recognize their leadership potentials, their intelligence, and the talents God has bestowed upon them. I cannot just always tell them what to do or share with them the things I’ve done in the past. I have to role play before them how to use one’s talents and be of service to the community, even look for opportunities for them to serve (alongside with me).
These are all very personal reasons, you see. It doesn’t mean that you should have exactly the same reasons before you start volunteering. Volunteer work is something that you can do at least 2 hours a week, and it can also be done from the comforts of your home, like what I do most of the time. I encourage you to find an organization where you could volunteer and see how you’d grow as an individual emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually, too. You might want to check out listings at the bulletin boards or websites of your church, alma mater, Red Cross, environmental groups that you support, charitable institutions, animal shelters, fire stations, etc. Or, you could us at YouVersion (youversion.com/volunteer) and Saddleback South Manila (saddleback.com.ph). You’d be surprised to find out that you do have many talents and there are many ways for you to serve!
In case you find yourself unsure of where to volunteer (or work, in general) or which talents you should nurture the most, try reading Anthony Pangilinan’s “Designed for success: Discover who you are and what you do best”. This tiny easy-to-read book can guide you, using the C.E.N.T.S. method. (C.E.N.T.S. stands for the following: Can I contribute? Can I excel? Does it involve my natural ability? Does the idea of doing it turn me on? Is the Spirit within me leading me to accept this opportunity?)
(Links to) Bible verses:
1. The Parable of the Talents – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A14-30&version=ESV
2. The Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
3. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
4. Ephesians 6:7 (NIV) Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.
5. Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds
6. Galatians 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.