I work full-time in the education field, I’m putting my two youngest sons through college and, until recently, I was caring for my elderly mother. For the past three years I’ve also been volunteering as an officer on the executive committee of our national American Baptist women’s ministry.
This office required many hours of time with meetings, travel, public speaking, writing articles, correspondence, etc. In fact, although I never kept track, I am pretty sure that all that time would be the equivalent of at least a half-time job.
Some of my friends asked me why, when I already had so many responsibilities, I would sacrifice my precious time even though I’m not being paid.
I’m afraid I may have given some of them the impression that I am just that good-hearted.
Most of us have known good-hearted women who are innately generous and unselfish… I’m not one of them. I know I am not because, on the rare occasions that I am able to set aside self-interest and do the right thing, I hear a little voice whispering in my ear, “Oh, that was so nice! Jonna, you are really good” and before I can sprain my elbow patting myself on the back, I am reminded that I am not “really good”, at all. What I am is really self-indulgent, self-centered, self-absorbed (are you sensing a theme, here?) and greedy. That I can recognize and do the right thing, from time to time, does not change my basic nature.
So why, then, do I donate so much of my time and energy? The answer is simple, and it is a secret known by all dedicated volunteers: we get paid.
First of all, I got paid by the reimbursement of my expenses. My costs for supplies and travel were all covered. This repayment made it possible for me to fulfill the duties of my office at no monetary cost to me.
This leads to my second form of payment…experiences. I had opportunities I could never have dreamed of before accepting this national office. During my three-year term as Western Section Coordinator I traveled from coast to coast and all around the West, attending meetings, leading workshops and speaking at gatherings of like-minded women.
And those women!
The most valuable payment of all is the exceptional friendships I made while serving. These are not casual, short-term acquaintanceships, but deep connections with diverse women coming together with the common goal of serving Christ. Whenever our paths cross, either in this life or the next, it will be a joyous reunion of soul-sisters. Women whose paths might never have crossed in any other way have grown together and been enriched.
So, if you sometimes wish you could volunteer for a cause dear to your heart, or accept an office in your women’s ministry, don’t be held back by thinking you aren’t “good” enough or that you can’t afford to donate the time and energy, remember this:
Volunteering is XXX-rated
and it pays with Reimbursed eXpenses
and eXceptional friendships