Emotion Driven Volunteers: “We got to get something started!”

Marcy, I just got back from this conference, and I want to help people.  I think I will start…..
I see a need, Marcy, and I want to meet it.  Can you help me get something started?
I read this great book and now I see what needs done in our community.
God is really laying on my heart what needs done, sign me up wherever you want me.
We are an emotion driven society, people, and church.  I am the first to admit that I am an emotion driven person.  I am working hard to control my emotions, but they constantly drive me to act.
During my time leading a para-church ministry, I met a lot of people who were driven by emotions to get involved in helping others.
They might have attended a conference, read a book, had a personal experience, or felt God leading them to get involved.
Many people came in our door determined to “get something started”.  They had an epiphany.  People are in need and I have got to do something about it.
Here are some things to consider with an emotion driven volunteer, or if our emotions are behind our actions:
  1.  Emotions fade.  Emotions don’t last.  We get all fired up and we start taking actions based off that feeling, but something happens.  We hit reality.  The reality is that helping others is hard work.  We often pour our heart and soul into helping others without seeing results.  Most people aren’t grateful for the amount of time we spend helping them.  When we begin to help others, on a long term basis, the feelings fade, and something called perseverance kicks in.  Something emotion driven, 21st century people don’t value or strive for.
  2. “I” see a need.  I think this is one of the most dangerous reasons to start any initiative.  “I” see a need.  I see a need and want to meet it so let’s get this thing going.  Now there are times when we see a need, and have a God given way to meet that need.  We do need to seriously consider that, but many times we can look for organizations that are already trying to meet a need.  The reality is many people see the same need you see, and are already taking action to meet it.  Consider first how you can help them, and perhaps in time you can implement new ways to meet that need.  This isn’t about you, it’s about serving others.  It’s not about us, starting something, and getting the glory.  It’s about connecting with others to meet a need, and God getting the glory.
  3. Emotions aren’t a foundation to act on.  If we are to serve others in a way that glorifies God we must have a biblical foundation.  This just isn’t exciting stuff.  Let’s be honest.  Yet, I must be grounded in God’s Word.  I must have a foundation to act on.  Emotions are fleeting, they are not a foundation.  When people are grounded they will become lasting volunteers.  I think of a volunteer named, Judy, that we had.  Judy volunteered at several organizations, but what was unique is that she volunteered for over 30 years.  Judy didn’t volunteer based off a one time emotion, she volunteered based off a foundation.  It kept her going for the long haul.
  4. Emotion doesn’t commit. Emotions are momentary.  They don’t last.  The only way to truly impact the lives of other people is to commit to doing that.  Think about your own family, spouse, or children.  Commitment gets us through those relationships, not emotion.
I was always excited when people would walk through our door, and show interest in volunteering.  It took me several years to figure out that many don’t stay.  They were excited, and emotional, but once that passed away, they weren’t in it for the short or long haul.  They were there as long as the feeling lasted.  They weren’t in it when it became work, and when perseverance was required.
Let’s first of all, look at how this plays into our own lives.  How many things do we start and stop when the emotion fades?
Let’s use this knowledge as a way to teach others.  The breadth of ministry is greater than we can imagine.  We need to teach others what it is really like to love and serve others.
Let’s realize that even though people will walk in and out of our doors, they will be affected by the experience.  They will learn and grow, and that will help them connect somewhere one day.
God has a purpose for every encounter we have with people.  Look for ways to make an impact for Him, and His glory.  Encountering and impacting people is what it’s about, and what has eternal consequences.
For God’s grace, and because of His glory,
Marcy Pedersen

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