“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (I Peter 4:10 NIV).
Many times over the years I have been asked to volunteer here or there, but at the same time I have also been asked, “Why do you do this to yourself?”
This has got me thinking, “Why do I volunteer?” Or rather, “Why do people not volunteer?” Granted that not everyone can physically be a volunteer for various reasons, but if the chance presents itself, why not consider it, given that volunteering can be done so readily from within or outside your home, alone or with a group of friends, during the day or even at night when you can’t sleep.
And you can set your own schedule!
Personally, I find volunteering to be fun and invigorating. It has provided me with opportunities that I might otherwise never have encountered. It has brought a multitude of new and interesting friends into my life, and has been extremely educational on so many levels. Also, it has broken down myriad barriers, such as ethnic, religious, gender, social status, age and language, to name just a few. And to top it off, I’ve been told many times that being Mennonite makes volunteering part of our DNA.
But don’t just take my word for these positive aspects of volunteering. The Bible Gateway website notes that there are 188 Bible verses about “serving,” including the verse quoted above. Also, typing the words “benefits of volunteering” into my Google search bar yielded 48 million results from which I chose the “Top 10” that rose to the surface:
10. It will change us for the better.
9. It will broaden our horizons.
8. It teaches us new skills.
7. It motivates us.
6 It allows us to become part of our community.
5. It generates a feeling of having achieved something.
4. It is good for mental, physical and emotional health.
3. It looks good on our resume when looking for a new job.
2. It will enhance our career opportunities.
1. It could even make us live longer, according to some reports.
Wow! So much has been written about volunteering and yet it seems that volunteers should really be labelled an “endangered species” since they are in such short supply in today’s society. Most churches, non-profit organizations and schools —including Mennonite ones—complain regularly that they do not have enough volunteers.
Meanwhile, we all know that as Christians we are supposed to love our neighbours and are instructed to serve others with whatever gifts we have received wherever we can. We also know that the benefits of “giving of ourselves,” or “volunteering,” are many.
And opportunities for service are everywhere. Right now, for example, Mennonite Women Canada needs your help, as do each of the provincial women’s ministries across the country, from Mennonite Church B.C. to MC Eastern Canada. So please contact your provincial women’s rep if you’re interested or have any questions.
So why not step up to the plate, find a niche that suits your calling and, as faithful stewards of God’s grace, practise and pass on that volunteering DNA to the next generation! Clearly, volunteering is good for us! When we feel useful or helpful, it just makes us feel happier—and happiness is said to be contagious!
Waltrude Gortzen is MC B.C.’s women’s ministry representative for Mennonite Women Canada.