Wow! It's been busy around here! In a good way, though. It helps me to stay busy.
A few weeks ago, The Right Path had a rough volunteer week with HALF of our volunteers out with illness. We even called in all of our back up volunteers and few of THOSE had emergencies! 😳 Whew! That was some fancy footwork but, praise the Lord, we did not have to cancel even one class!
This week we actually had to cancel classes because all of US are sick! Ugh. I really don't like to do that. I don't like being sick, either...
I've been thinking a lot about volunteer work lately. There are so many wonderful organizations that exist for the sole purpose of helping others. Great causes that depend on volunteers to keep ministering to those in need. And, really, aren't we all in need at some point in our lives?
A friend asked me last week if they should force their teen to volunteer somewhere. That's a tough question. My answer might surprise you. I said no.
You heard correctly. NO. Because I don't really think forced volunteer work helps anyone. But also because I think giving of yourself, pouring your heart into someone else, focusing on someone's needs other than your own, serving someone with no expectation for any return...these are learned behaviors. We've all heard the saying, "Values are caught, not taught." Well, I think that's true on many levels. Including volunteering.
So here are my suggestions for parents who have a child that is struggling with selfishness:
1) Don't expect your teen to do what you're not doing.
We're all busy. I get it. Really. There are a million reasons that prevent us from volunteering our time for someone else. But all those reasons can quickly become excuses if we aren't careful. When we are constantly telling our children to do something that we can't find time for, we are really sending the message to our children that it really isn't that important.
2) Don't project your ideas and goals into their volunteer work.
Just because you love an organization doesn't mean they will love the organization. That's okay. Abby has been volunteering her time, training horses for a rescue facility, for the past 2 years. It's not my thing, or Michael's, but we all schedule our time around it. This year Sherrod joined her in the task. Although it isn't always easy, it's good for them to do what they love.
3) Give yourself grace AND make a plan.
You work full-time. Kids are in school. Baseball practice always runs late. You fall into bed exhausted each night. I get it. Maybe this isn't your season for full-time volunteering. That's okay. Almost every organization has something a one-time volunteer can do. Just make a plan to fit something into your schedule.
4) Get the whole family involved.
Sit down with your family, discuss your desires, and set a goal. In the beginning, maybe it will be to volunteer as a group somewhere once a year. Soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. Benefit car wash. Mow an elderly neighbor's yard. When you all get together and start looking at the needs around you, you'll find something that jumps out at you.
5) Be an advocate.
Help the organization you like by getting the word out. It's super easy to do thinks like: share a post on FB, retweet a message, forward an email. You might have a great idea for a fundraiser (something every nonprofit is in need of) that you can share.
The bottom line is, get involved any way you can. And it will be much easier to raise children who are willing and ready to get involved.