As long as there have been people on the planet, humans have been serving one another. Ever since cavemen and nomads began settling into slightly more permanent civilizations, a since of altruism has existed because taking care of individuals benefited the group as a whole. Altruism is defined as the principle and moral practice of concern for happiness of other human beings and other animals, resulting in a quality of life both material and spiritual (Wikipedia).
This sense of caring for others, giving to the poor, and serving those in need has evolved over the ages and as early as the 12th century, we see the use of the word “service” transition into something that people do voluntarily and less out of a duty from ownership, bondage, or work.
I like to be reminded of the origins of things I’m passionate about because it makes me feel like a tiny thread in the biggest tapestry God’s ever created. The tagline for our blog is “stretching our hearts to win theirs,” which I feel echoes the heart of altruism and service so well. There’s a sense of bettering ourselves to improve the lives of others; it’s a conscious thought to make ourselves right so that we can be a resource to those that need our help.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others before yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.Philippians 2:1-8
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
The entire book of Philippians can apply to this message, but the section above is crucial to understand as a volunteer — and I’ll tell you why…
Being made in the image of God means you have a heart for the same people he died to save.
You are united under a common cause: the interest in the well-being, health, and happiness of every living creature that he created. That can’t be ignored or understated. The reason that you tear up at Old Yeller, the heart squeeze you feel when you see a homeless person, and even the moment you realize you want to volunteer in an organization to be a part of something greater than yourself: this is all due to the fact that God hardwired you for his kingdom.
When Paul begins the passage above, he’s reminding us of what has been written on our hearts at our creation. And because of Jesus’s sacrifice, we are “united with Christ,” sharing a “common Spirit,” and we understand that we should “look to the interests of others.” ….because that’s what God did through us!
Stretching our hearts through spending time in Scripture, reading this blog, your favorite podcasts and studies — it allows us to remind ourselves what we’re doing this for. I would even say it’s kind of like a Christian grounding technique. Grounding techniques are typically used by individuals who suffer from memory problems, PTSD, anxiety, and other hardships. It’s as easy as reciting something, naming things you can see in alphabetical order, or some kind of anchoring phrase that pulls you back to the moment in front of you.
When the stressors of our life cause us to get off track, we need to be grounded with reminders of Who we’re serving and why serving matters to the kingdom of God.
You know why I think volunteers are some of the most special people on the planet? Because the people that make the best servants of God are typically those that think they have nothing to offer. They’re the ones who count themselves out without realizing that their struggles, their humanity, is what qualifies them specifically for a volunteer position.
Pastor Will loves to say, “remember why you started.” I encourage you to hold fast to that mindset whenever you about to serve because if you serve from a place of vulnerability, humility, and with the mindset to be like Jesus, God will use you to change as many lives as you allow him to.
You’ve already got what it takes. And he’s just getting started!