I remember OneLife Church was at the high school as I led the setup and tear down teams. We would arrive to pickup the trailer at 5:30-6:00 AM; transport it to the High School; setup; volunteer for two services; tear down and drop the trailer while managing to get home to a wife and two toddlers napping around 3:00 PM. Looking back, that was some good ol’ days! Seriously… I loved it!
In those days when people said this particular statement to me, honestly, I wanted to lay hands on them (in a non spiritual way) and help them meet Jesus. What they commonly said was “Volunteering is just not for me”.
Well, now I find myself in a paradigm… cause I agree… sort of.
A few months back I got tired. I was tired from working a grueling 6 day work week. I was tired from traveling all over the southeast buying cars for our company. I was tired from working sun up to sun down. I was tired from my only day off sitting in a seat for church for what seemed like all day… for what… just to volunteer…?
I needed a break.
So I took one.
I blocked out several straight weeks to enjoy my day of rest… You know, I have a scripture.
I needed my day off!
Then less than three weeks into my mini sabbatical, what I realized is something pretty incredible. What I realized is exactly what some of these people had said all along. Now, I believe they meant it differently as a half-hearted excuse just not to get up early or to miss their Sunday afternoon naps but it’s still what I realized.
Volunteering is just not for me.
On my third Sunday off, I walked in and saw one of the volunteers that I had spent week in and week out beside. They appeared a little short. They appeared a little distraught. So I grabbed them and began prodding… As their eyes filled up with tears we sat down and began to talk. We shared our stories. We talked about what was going on in our lives. We dug deep with each other… and you know what, that’s not the only time it’s happened. When we launched Halls Campus at OneLife, a volunteer called me one evening and we talked for over an hour. I prayed with them over the phone as they sat in their driveway while they accepted Christ and turned over complete control to Him. Another Volunteer I have spent time building a relationship has been shaken to their core, yet every Sunday we are scheduled together we have the opportunity to talk about what’s going on and dig a little deeper.
Wait… wait… I’m not finished.
I’m not finished cause I think about my own story. I began at OneLife and thought it was like just the other churches and it probably just sucked less than the other churches we tried however church (in general) was a contingency plan on saving my marriage. Truthfully, it was our last ditch effort. It started great, I sat in a seat for a few weeks and then I even thought I would “get involved” and start volunteering. As a couple, we began volunteering and that is when things starting really changing for us. I felt myself asking questions during setup and teardown to someone I hold truly dear to me even today.
Then a few months into volunteering, there was a sermon series that rocked me to my core from Pastor Rodney. On a Monday morning, as I was driving to work just weeping I didn’t call THE Pastor. I didn’t call THE Church. I called my friend. I called my friend that invited me to volunteer. I called my friend that I had setup and tore down beside week in and week out. I met him at his office as he cleared his schedule. Together, we got in contact with the counselors the church recommended. I went to one on one counseling for over three years. Crissy and I went to marriage counseling several times over the course of a few months.
Now, today, as I write this… I can easily say that if I had never volunteered I would still be doing life alone… but what scares me more than that is if what if my friend never volunteered…? What if he said… nah… volunteering is just not for me. That leaves my mind completely abandoned. I am desperately thankful that my friend volunteered and asked me to join him on Sundays… and honestly, this post may be the first time I have ever shared this with him. So, you know who you are and I am grateful for you friend.
So… if you are on the fence about volunteering and thinking that it’s just not for you. I’d say you’re right. It’s not. Us, the volunteers at OneLife, we are more than just charity workers or a nonprofit, free labor staff… we are family and I don’t think that many people can see that on the outside looking in. I can easily say today that the closest friends I have in my life are either in our OneLife Community or Volunteer with me on Sundays…
Volunteering changed the trajectory of my life, my marriage and my walk with Christ and altered many of the people that sit beside me pushing buttons, moving faders, playing instruments, or rocking babies… so volunteering isn’t just for me.