Archive for the ‘Spiritual Gifting’ Category

We’re on the last post of this series. All previous excuses for not volunteering were real. I’ve protected the names of the guilty, listened to their words in disbelief and offered replies as therapy for myself. After all, that’s kind of what blogs are all about. Here’s the final countdown – heard of any of them?

#7 “God hasn’t called me to serve”

Really? Here’s another top 10:

#8 “I’ve served for years … let the young people step up”

Yep, let ‘em step up. But here are a couple of things for your consideration: there’s no age limit on service and no such thing as too much service. As long as you’ve got breath, you’re called to advance the Kingdom. There might be physical limitations that restrict us, but there’s never a shortage of ministry opportunities during the “golden years.” The joy factor in giving of your time doesn’t have to extinguish at 65, 70 or 90. In fact, the fruits of your experiences can mentor to the generations to come if you let them.

Our role as servants to the King doesn’t have an expiration date, save for the day of Christ’s return. You wouldn’t consider decades of loving and forgiving one another as an excuse to stop– why would serving others be any different?

#9 “All the church wants is my time and money”

Not true. Many churches want you to come on Easter and Christmas, too.  Sorry, I just stepped back into sarcasm. My guess is that if you’re not serving, it’s highly probable that you may not be tuned in to the heart and vision of your church. Real growth happens outside of that one-hour Sunday thing.  It happens in the disciplines of a Christ Follower that include – but aren’t limited to – the time and money things. Growth happens as we build relationships, relationships often found while serving on a team. Growth happens when we’re seeking to help others without expectations or self-gratification. Growth happens when we realize we’re the ones growing from a selfless act of serving or giving.

#10 “No one has asked”

Sure, it’s great when we’re invited to stand arm and arm to make a difference with someone we know. It’s encouraging when others see our giftedness and tap us on the shoulder to join them on mission. That’s the best approach but, still, the invitation is all around us. It’s in the realization that consumer Christianity doesn’t have a part in changing our churches or our communities. Here’s the reality: If we, as Followers of Christ, utilize excuses to stop serving, not only are we causing a disservice to others but also stunting our own spiritual growth.

 

#4 “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.”

That’s normal and we can fix that. Really. Unless you understand some basic principals of Rick Warren’s work revolving around the acronym SHAPE, you might just miss your calling a couple of times before you hit your sweet spot. Discovering your unique SHAPE (Spiritual gifting’s, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) will go a long way in helping you discover opportunities that don’t feel like you’re going to the dentist office every time your weekend to serve arrives. Serving doesn’t have to hurt to matter – but to those who are hurting, your serving matters. Whether helping to serve inside or outside the “box,” there are opportunities where we make a difference in the lives of others that will actually bring joy to our often self-centered lives. If at first you don’t succeed … but this time, bring a little SHAPE to the mix.

#5 “I don’t know what I want to do” (So you’ll keep doing nothing?)

Here’s what’s simple: If you’re not sure where to start, you might look into #4 and then be determined to “just say yes.” Here’s what’s difficult: It’s kind of just the reverse of breaking a bad habit.  In this case, you know you should do something but the gap between your head and heart is often filled with competing emotions of good intentions, distractions and deterrents. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat like a quote Oprah reportedly said in the news this week. It’s actually really meaningful: “People don’t change because of what they know but because of what they feel.” Profound. Let’s stop there. My hope in calling out all of these excuses is this: Christ Followers move from what they THINK in their heads is the right thing to deciding in their heart that it’s time to DO the right thing.

#6 “Everything’s under control” (I don’t think I’m needed)

Look around you – you’re kidding, right?! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that every ministry is fully staffed with volunteers and your church appears to be “under control” (pause for breath and reflection). What about outside the church “box?” What about the workplace where you might be a light in a dark world? What about the hurt you could bring relief to at your local shelter? Your community doesn’t have those problem areas? Well, I guess you’re not needed then. Which brings me to my second point: This entire serving thing (although sounding counter-intuitive) is about you! Why? Because you need to be in relationships. You need to be part of something outside of yourself. You need to feel the joy of giving. You need someone to tell you “thanks.” You need to know you’ve made a difference. You need to express your giftedness – to serve and do good works in this world because you (all of us) were made by God to do so. It’s that whole “salt and light” thing.  (Matt.5:13-16)

More excuses coming soon. I’m 56; I’ve heard many.

As a volunteer, have you ever been told, “your ministry made a difference in my life?”

I know our performing artists hear something like that a lot. I’ve heard stories of guests coming up to an artist, with tears in their eyes or sobbing, because a musical element touched their life in a profound way. I’ve read comments written by those who were moved beyond imagination during the performance of a song; it shook them to the core, brought them out of their seat and ultimately to the foot of the cross. How powerful. It’s so true. Performances by gifted individuals often are that last link in the chain to a changed heart.

For those who’ve never heard, “you made a difference in my life,” I want to remind you that it’s a step-by-step process that often involves a bunch of people utilizing their giftedness to effectively communicate that our guests matter to God.

Think for a moment about the steps that lead that guest to a place where they can become receptive to the performance. Maybe it started months ago in -10 degree weather, walking from the car to the front door on a snow-cleared parking lot and sidewalks. They noticed something most take for granted, but it didn’t happen by accident. It happened because because a volunteer woke up at 5 a.m. and knew it would make a difference.

Maybe it continued when they dropped their child off in a classroom, a classroom where volunteer technicians help create an engaging environment for children to hear from volunteer teachers about Jesus. While we provide “little people” church downstairs, upstairs adults are freed from distraction and able to engage in the message within the artistic moment taking place on stage or on screen.

Or perhaps a guest’s reception to Christ was softened during a weekend service where moments captured in photography were edited and produced into a compelling video. Maybe it was the greeting, or the latest “seasonal café latte creation” served by smiling volunteers.

Get the point? Volunteers are needed in every step of the process; the roles vary but the impact equates the same in service to God. Whether you’re a guest’s first impression or last impression, you’re part of the plan! It doesn’t really matter in the big picture; God has given you a gift and the church is blessed when you chose to use it.