Friday, October 9, 2009


A weed sprouted up in our front yard, only in my view it's not a weed; it's a pumpkin plant. Of course, it's not exactly supposed to be in our front yard, and thus is considered a "weed" by my husband.

I don't consider it a "weed". A friend of mine calls these wonderful surprises "volunteers". They weren't planted, had no special care or tending and yet despite perhaps harsh conditions, they grew, and benefit others with their beauty and in the case of a pumpkin plant, a glorious pumpkin!

I've been thinking a lot about volunteerism. I've so many questions about this I've struggled for about a year to find my "place" in my church in terms of what I can contribute and volunteer in. I've found that it's not so easy to find a place to serve.

My church has been going through a series on the book of Acts, emphasizing "One".... but in the sermon notes each week it lists these verses in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:

"The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit." (NLT)

In an effort to contribute to the body of Christ (the Church) I've attempted to volunteer for a lot of things, but they really haven't panned out. I can see why; as I perhaps am not actually gifted in these venues. I tried to join the media team thinking that perhaps David and I could use our video and photography interests. That really hasn't amounted to anything. I have tried to be a part of the women's ministry but really don't have much to contribute in that area so it also did not work out. I've volunteered to do a ton of little things that really I'm not good at. I desire to volunteer because I love my church. Plus, and I hate to say it, I want to be "in". I want to be included and be in the "IN" crowd and I though that volunteering would make me "in". Well, I don't think being "in" is that simple. Besides, why is there an "in" group? If we truly are the Body of Christ we should all be "in" and feel this sense of common purpose and belonging.

But that's another blog post.

A wise friend realized, after I accepted to try yet another volunteer job that is NOT my passion or interest, that perhaps I shouldn't do it. It's a good but strange concept; as for me, it doesn't seem like doing the things that I love as being a sacrifice. Shouldn't serving God be a sacrifice? Something that I freely give up or endure because of my desire to serve?

I no longer believe that. I think that my friend is right: We are all unique and all have something to contribute to the Body of Christ. Something special. I don't think it's wrong to volunteer and help do things that need to be done because they need to be done and someone has to do it, but how wonderful, how joyful and edifying and glory it is to God when we are serving in a capacity that He gifted us in. That we enjoy and are passionate about and just KNOW that God created us with that interest or skill or desire, and it works and is just very good.

Still, finding one's place is not easy! As I stated, I've attempted to do so many things. At times it is discouraging; do I really have any "gift" that God gave me that I can use? And I do look around and compare and so desperately desire to be like "this person" or "that person" and why didn't God make me differently so I could serve Him and make a difference in the world. Everyone wants to be a leader and yet I'm clearly not one.

Scripture says that we're all different and we're all vital to the Church. That we're interdependent on one another and incomplete without all the "parts". It's a beautiful analogy and yet I have to admit that oftentimes I don't see it; I see a very disjointed, competitive church with cliques, impatience and a hierarchy of those with the gifts that seem truly important. And doesn't everyone want to be truly important?

Back to my pumpkin plant: It just grew. It grew in an unlikely place, in my front yard, the seed most likely ferried there by a squirrel. Yeah, there was soil and water. And now there's a pumpkin plant growing, complete with a pumpkin! Our "volunteer". It couldn't help but grow under those conditions: Light, soil, water. And what it's growing is exactly what it should because it's a pumpkin plant. Not an apple tree, not a carrot. I wonder at times as a volunteer if I've been created to be a pumpkin plant but instead want to produce the fruit of an apple tree. Silly to expect but I wonder if that's what I attempt. And I wonder how many churches also expect or desire their volunteers to be different than what God made them to be; to contribute in a way they want instead of a way God wants and uniquely created them to be.


  1. I am not sure what kind of volunteer I am besides doing what is set before me. Does it fill my passion? No...but I do it, becuase someone needs to be there for the little kids in the jungle. If someone else stepped up, I would most likely step down.

    Not sure what I would end up doing. I actually wouldn.t mind doing some theater arts at church. Not sure how that could get worked in...but I think I would enjoy something like that about now in my life. a little theater, a little art, a little theater, a little art...or just plain theater teach something about living. Go figure...what am I ?

  2. Maxine, I understand; as I also am prone to do things that are set before me or just things that I see a need and no one else steps up so I do. YET.... is that really a great way of doing things? I don't think it's wrong to do things because there is a need but how much more wonderful it is to do things that "fit".... things that one is passionate about or feel drawn to or interested in.

    As for how you serve; it may not be your passion but I bet most people THINK that is your passion. Perhaps you were asked to serve in the capacity you do because people feel that you are truly GIFTED in that way and mistake it for your passion?

    I know you help out in preschool; and I look at you and find you to be a gifted teacher, incredibly patient and great with kids. I thought you were passionate about your role in children's ministries; you are such a natural at it; quite loving and patient with kids.