When was the last time you actually volunteered for something?
One of my favorite play on words is that I was "volun-told" that I was going to do something. Everytime I say it, someone laughs and says they never thought about it that way. When you sit down and really think about it, when was the last time you genuinely volunteered for something that would take you out of your comfort zone or that you knew you wouldn't like? If you're like me, you didn't volunteer, you waited until someone point blank asked you to help...or as I like to say, "volun-told" you.
To be volun-told is to be recruited for an event, activity, or ongoing commitment that you never would have placed yourself in, but also won't say no now that you've been asked. Maybe it was to help set up for a party, be on a committee at work, or help man the bouncy house station at a Fall Festival. More often than not, we do the task and walk away feeling better about ourselves that we helped and sometimes we even are GLAD that we were asked to help out.
My experience being volun-told is one that took me way off guard and is one that I NEVER would have volunteered myself for, but now that I'm here in the midst of it, I wouldn't change a thing. This is my story.
I have always loved working with kids, little kids. I babysat from the time I was old enough to stay at home with my brothers and eventually began to watch other people's kids. I spent many nights, weekends, and summer days watching young kids. As soon as I was old enough to start helping with Vacation Bible School, I did, sometimes even helping at my church, plus the church my mom worked at, plus my aunt's church. Once I got older, our Children's minister asked if I would help on Wednesday nights at church with the 3-4 year olds, I did that until I moved off for college. In college, I was even majoring in something that would help me teach people to talk, and my intended age range for a future job was, you guessed it, LITTLE kids. At this point, I had worked with kids from diapers to 3rd-4th grade through babysitting and church. When I moved back from college after graduating with my undergrad and started work on my Masters, I had gotten involved with my home church again but had not yet gone back to serving and to be completely honest, it wasn't even on my mind. I made it all the way through grad school without getting plugged back in because I kept telling myself I was "too busy." In the last year of grad school, I went through some MAJOR life things. I lost my grandmother, I got engaged, I was planning a wedding, I found out I was not engaged to who I thought I was, I called off a wedding, and was trying to make good grades and study for a Praxis that would determine whether or not I got my Speech Pathology License. I was doing good to make it to church let alone all the extra that would go with the role of being plugged in and serving, that was my excuse and I was sticking to it. Not long after the Spring Semester wrapped up, I had accepted a job in a school system working with Kindergarten-2nd grade students that needed speech therapy and I would be starting in the Fall. Soon after, we had a fellowship at church in our gym. I don't remember who was there, what the fellowship was about, or what we had to eat that night, but I do remember the next thing very vividly. The youth pastor at the time came up to me and flat out said, "God told me you're supposed to be helping in the youth department." and I laughed because Me? The girl who has worked with little kids forever? In the Youth group? I just couldn't believe it, but at the same time I opened my mouth to say, "No thank you" for whatever reason, I said "umm okay, where do you need me?" That question has turned into one of the biggest blessings of my life. Since then, I have helped lead a Junior High Sunday School class, which has lead to so many other things. I got asked to help lead a girl's small group on Wednesday nights with some of the girls from my class on Sundays, and I have now followed those girls up into high school where they are currently Sophomores. I have gone to youth camps where I have been volun-told for many things, including having to dress like an indian and do a choreographed dance to the YMCA with other leaders dressed as the remaining Village People. But most importantly, I have established bonds with these kids and I have watched them grow in their faith. I have seen them accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, be baptized, worship together, turn into spiritual leaders at school, and I have even seen them do some pretty weird things at camp for points for their team.
I had coffee this morning with some of the other youth leaders and that is what inspired me to put my story out in the open. We talked about what we could do to get more people involved with these students. How could we talk people into being the crazy adults that work with these kids. What would happen if more people were willing to put their "yes" on the table and see how working with these students not only impacts the student's lives but impacts their own life, as well.
Being volun-told for something all those years ago has been such a blessing for so many reasons, from the students to the other leaders who have truly become like family. Take a moment and think about what you have been considering getting involved in and why you haven't put your "yes" out there. Sure, it may take some time out of your busy schedule, but also think about the blessing you're missing because you haven't said YES.