Today starts the season when hundreds of thousands of people will volunteer more than usual to help make the holidays special for the less fortunate. It’s an amazing time of year to see so many people coming together to feed the homeless, throw Christmas parties for underprivileged kids, visit the elderly and donate to “gift trees”. At the same time, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be bittersweet for organizations who try to mobilize volunteers (and money) throughout the rest of the year.
My husband runs a ministry (on a volunteer basis) that serves chili to local homeless people every Thursday. There are about 10 core volunteers who commit to this weekly. Thanksgiving happens to be the one Thursday that the ministry does NOT serve because there are so many other groups who show up to serve on that day specifically. The other 51 weeks of the year, it’s just Bryan and his fellow volunteers with a couple of tables serving chili to 300 homeless people in downtown Santa Ana.
Last week, two large groups called wanting to serve chili on Thanksgiving. Bryan explained they would not be serving that night but that he would love for them to come any other week. In both cases, they politely thanked him for his time and hung up.
It would be easy, if not trite, to place blame on people for only serving on designated holidays. The bigger question for consideration is, what STOPS Christians from consistently serving, despite knowing it is our explicit calling? In raising our kids to be Christ followers, is serving not a critical matter? I can’t answer for everyone, but since I personally am guilty of not consistently serving, I’ll let you in my head.
I’ve considered mentoring a foster teen. I’ve looked into tutoring elementary kids at a shelter. I’ve thought about “adopting” an elderly person to visit in a nursing home. But then my mind starts spinning: With all of my “mom” responsibilities, how can I find time to regularly serve? I surely don’t want to commit to anything. Then they will depend on me. What if it becomes too much and I have to keep going back anyway? Worse yet, what if I decide to stop and totally let someone down? Even if I decide to do it, what exactly should I do? What are my gifts? Maybe I should Google “Spiritual Gifts Quiz”.
For me, this internal dialogue leads to . . . absolutely nothing. No serving at all, because I’m seeing serving as an “event” (or series of “events”). I’m overthinking it and building it into something it’s not. I realized this week that if I started with even the smallest ways of serving that are all around me, all the time, I would be much more likely to serve consistently. Since Jesus calls us to serve as a way of life, consistency is of highest importance! With that in mind, I hope you’ll join me in the challenge below.
What (if any) mental barriers do you put up to serving consistently?
Make serving less of an “event”. Commit to doing something – anything – for someone else with your kids one time per week. This can be something as small as sending an encouraging note to someone or shoveling snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk. Have your kids decide what it is you do each week so they are fully vested in the commitment. The goal is to teach our kids that serving opportunities are everywhere, all the time. I’m going to implement this myself starting this week and will report back in future posts. Will you join me?