When I think about volunteering vs serving, I think that my natural tendency is to jump into more than what God has asked me to do. And that usually leads me to giving a less than 100% effort in the tasks that are actually from Him.
Of all the opportunities that I am presented with on an regular basis, how do I know which are the ones that He wants me to take on?
When the children were little, I was overwhelmed with all that I had to do as a mommy and homemaker. One day, I wrote out a list of five different things that I thought were important in my day, and then I asked Chris to rate them in order of importance to him. (While I was a mommy and homemaker, I was first and foremost my husband’s helpmate, and I wanted to be a source of encouragement to him.) I think this was the first time that I used priorities to help me determine what I could or could not do outside of my home. If I couldn’t have a hot meal on the table, have clean clothes in my husband’s closet or keep a clean kitchen, I knew that, out of respect for my husband’s authority, I shouldn’t get involved in ministries outside of my home until I could carry out the ministries I had within my home.
As I was able to learn more discipline in keeping our home and raising our kiddos, being involved in other ministry opportunities became a possibility. Every year, I would pray through what my priorities should be for that coming year. And when I would hear of needs, or people would ask me to do something, I would prayerfully and honestly check it against what I wanted to be priorities in my life.
Because of the truth that my husband and I are one, I also knew that I should not make big time commitments without him. Whether he is directly involved or not, whatever I am involved in affects him. And so, it truly helps me to run these opportunities by him and find out what his thoughts are.
For example, in the fall, I signed up to do a Bible Study that I was really excited about. But as the weeks went on, I realized that my husband really needed me at home. Because studying the Bible is a good thing, I had jumped right in. But I should have prayed about it and checked to make sure it was the best thing for us. I had committed myself to this study, while unable to minister to my husband. If I had checked this opportunity against what I knew were God-ordained priorities, I would’ve known that the Bible study, at that particular point in time, was a not for our best.
And there are also those moments when I don’t even have time to think or pray. It is when God interrupts my day and my only response should be to act. Like the events that I describe in this post. God has continued to bring opportunities like that into our life.
There are many different ways to work through the different ministry opportunities that come my way. But whether it is a request from another person, a ministry that my heart has a passion for, a hungry couple standing on my front porch or a need that I’m not sure I’m up for, my first response should always be to talk to God about it. Ask Him what He wants and then trust that He will guide me.