Before joining ServiceLink, I spent the better part of 30 years in the publishing industry. Often, it was necessary to remind editors and journalists to pay closer attention to the main competitor to our newspapers.
This didn’t refer to the ‘other’ newspaper or electronic media. The primary competitor for each and every reader’s attention was time. For many people, there just aren’t enough minutes, hours and days to accomplish everything they want or need to do.
It is comforting to know we serve a God who promises to one day set us free from the boundaries of time. But, until then, serving God involves discerning how best to use our gifts and resources – including time.
Many Christians choose to offer a portion of their time in the form of volunteering and ServiceLink’s role is to support and foster volunteerism within the CRCNA.
Some volunteer within the ministries and activities of their congregation. Some connect with agencies that address needs within the surrounding community. Some choose to build deeper relationships outside their church by coaching minor sports, service club involvement or sitting on the board of a not-for-profit organization. Some volunteers are very selective about where they direct their energy, and some seem eager to experience a bit of everything.
The CRCNA also benefits greatly from many volunteers who lend their time, energy and expertise to a wide variety of tasks with nearly every agency and ministry.
Serving in humility, volunteers often shy away from the limelight and are quite content to labor behind the scenes. For that reason, their contributions can too easily be taken for granted.
So, what motivates the majority of volunteers? Quite simply, they have passion for a particular cause and want to know that what they are doing is making a difference – that it has value, and is appreciated. And they want to be treated accordingly, with respect and dignity.
April 15-21 has been designated as National Volunteer Week in both Canada and the U.S. While it is important to encourage and thank volunteers on an on-going basis, National Volunteer Week does provide a special occasion to tell them that they are greatly appreciated.
National Volunteer Week provides congregations with the opportunity to thank and encourage volunteers. This could involve expressing gratitude for volunteers as part of the congregational prayer or elsewhere in the service, or praying for community groups that rely on volunteers. Perhaps it would be appropriate to pray for, or over, those from the congregation or community agencies whose responsibilities include the recruitment of volunteers. And it is a great time to invite more people to become involved in volunteerism.
Volunteering affords Christians with untold opportunities to serve others by stepping beyond the boundaries of our churches, our families and our regular circle of friends. Volunteers put self-interest aside by giving of their time to help individuals in need or organizations devoted to bettering society.
Time is indeed precious.
Volunteers are too.
Now is the opportunity to tell them so.