Time flies, doesn’t it?
We’re in volunteer-recruiting season in our middle-school student ministry. Soon, a host of brand-spankin-new 6th-grade students will arrive – some trembling, some celebrating, all clueless about what’s about to hit them – in our programming or life.
But, as they spill into the room, I won’t see them through the lens of staff. I’ll eye them as a small group leader entering my ninth year of volunteering to lead students. I started out with a group of kindergartners – and now they’re heading into the 8th grade.
So, okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Am I – and every otherwise-sane adult who makes this choice – crazy for volunteering to serve as a small group leader during what is surely the most wretched stretch of human development?
That was easy, wasn’t it?
I mean, c’mon. They’re middle schoolers.
Do you REMEMBER middle school?!?
But… would we be nuts not to volunteer to lead middle-school students?
A few years ago, a friend’s daughter knocked on my door. She was 14 – and shared that she needed a pregnancy test.
Imagine how differently that conversation might have gone if someone had been walking alongside her three years sooner, speaking healthy, loving messages into her life.
No, I don’t mean a parent. Because this is the age when students are wrestling confusing emotions and, though they may not understand why, they’re distancing themselves from those who have nurtured them since birth.
They need someone who will show up, week after week – day after day, even – and be available to have the tough conversations that come with life change.
They need someone willing to be real.
Lemme tell you a few things about volunteering.
Some of this won’t surprise you:
- It’s a big commitment.
Haha, you think that’s a strike against it, don’t you?
Well, you’re wrong.
Think about the things to which you’ve committed. You care about them immeasurably more, don’t you? Investing in something or someone links you in a way that blows away something that merely interests you.
So don’t bother to step toward volunteering if it only interests you – step up and commit. It will make the difference in what you contribute – and receive.
- Even though you’re too busy to volunteer, you’re not too busy to show up.
Then do it again the next week.
Picture me grinning right now.
Because I know what happens next. God does, too. This is where he does his thang. You know, that thang where he begins to form relationships where there had only been a vacuum.
Trust me, this is something I know intimately.
When I first felt nudged to serve, it was beyond inconvenient. I was the communications director for a company based in France. I traveled incessantly – to Toronto, Mexico City, Paris, Venice, Las Vegas, NY, LA.
Committing to show up week after week to lead kids in a church I didn’t even attend every Sunday made no sense at all.
I had it all – and that’s what finally convinced me I needed to give. Because “having it all” was falling flat and Christ was whispering in my ear that he had something bigger in store for me.
His plan for something bigger would begin with a group of children who barely reached my waist.
I worried that my absences would shortchange the kids, but discovered very quickly that, when I was away, I missed them like crazy. Instead of the obligation inspiring me to change, the relationships that grew shifted my priorities.
Somehow what had seemed impossible became possible and I missed few Sundays.
… which leads me to my final point…
- What is impossible with man is possible with God.
Yeah, that’s not original. But it’s important to trust when you’re wasting time rationalizing why volunteering simply isn’t an option for you.
No matter what your excuse, there’s a solution if God is whispering for you to step up. Share your life with the few – or many – he has lined up for you to help shape.
Remember that elephant?
It’s time for it to step on your fears!
Someone needs you and life won’t wait.