Volunteering is time well spent for the heart, mind, body, and soul. But almost half of Americans, when asked about volunteering, say they would like to, but just don't have the free time.
Others suggest volunteering opportunities don't match their interests and can be inflexible, not matching their schedules. They say they have "better things" to do, more productive things.
We Are Hard-Wired to Serve
We are hard-wired by God to serve others. The more we give, the happier we feel, even when we are experiencing tough times ourselves. When you are happier and feel better about yourself through volunteering, you become more confident in your ability to accomplish things in other areas of your life.
Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. Helping others helps relieve depression and anxiety, improving your mood, reducing stress. Again, your focus is changed looking inward to looking outward.
When you make time to volunteer, you make new friends. Your social network expands, and your social skills improve, especially if you tend to be a loner. You develop a support system.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, the social contacts you make in volunteering can help change your focus from your loss to helping others. You will also establish meaningful connections to others that will relieve to some extent the effects of your loss.
Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose, especially when you are searching for meaningful activity and a reinforced personal identity. This is why volunteering is great source of purpose for middle agers who are looking for a new identity, retirees who are looking for something to do.
Serving others also gives you an opportunity to acquire new skills. As you expand your social network by volunteering, you may also meet people who can be beneficial, and enhance your resume.
Volunteering also opens windows to new experiences, new interests, new passions in your life. It can broaden your perspective on many things as you gain knowledge about other ways of doing things, other ways of life and cultures.
In God's Words
Isaiah 58:10 "and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
1 Peter 4:10 "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."
Acts 20:35 "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Also read: Proverbs 11:24, Galatians 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:17-19
In the Words of Others
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” William Shakespeare
“Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those who have need of a man’s help– something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it. For, remember, you don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here, too.” Albert Schweitzer
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi
In Your Words
If you’ve volunteered in the past, describe the feeling you had during and after your experience helping people.
Have you turned down volunteer opportunities? What were your reasons? Consider how you could have volunteered.
Have there been times when you felt the Lord leading you to make yourself vulnerable by volunteering? What were your thoughts at the time?