Discerning Your Volunteer Path
by SarahLee Morris
It just happened again. You experienced a soul-stirring presentation, program or video, explaining the work of a worthy social service agency, church-sponsored group, or civic club—and you’re hooked.
“Sign me up. Right now. I want to volunteer!”
Your first response is to think, “I have some extra time
So how does one discern what’s good for all
For Christians, discernment begins and continues in heartfelt prayer and consultation with God’s Word. What is God’s yearning for you as a steward of all God’s good gifts in your life? Certainly the use of your “spare” time, energy, gifts, skills and, perhaps, money is something to pray about!
Frederick Buechner’s definition of vocation applies to our calling to volunteer roles as well as our life’s work: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
Begin By Seeking Clarity
Discernment can begin by asking God for clarity about your motivations for volunteer service. Motivations can spark or potentially extinguish your “deep gladness.” Some common drives are the desire to feel needed, share or gain a skill, promote a cause or belief dear to your heart, improve your community, keep busy, gain status, make new friends or follow Christ in serving others. Perhaps you feel called to volunteer because of pressure from a relative or friend, because it would look good on your résumé or simply because you were asked.
To sort this out, spend some time pondering your motives and offer them to God in prayer. Most of the biblical stories of discernment and listening for God’s voice are partial stories. Nevertheless, they can give us ideas about various pieces of the discernment process.
For more guidance on discerning your path and a list of helpful questions, read the full text of this article in the May/June 2009 issue of Horizons.
Call (866) 802-3635 or subscribe to Horizons or order the May/June 2009 issue (HZN-09-220; $4 plus shipping).
SarahLee Morris, resource coordinaor for Palo Duro Presbytery, finds new life by offering spiritual direction and consultation in Christian formation.
Illustration by Annette Cable.
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