During my lifetime, I have been doing a lot of volunteer work: For my Church, charitable organizations, including several years of full time volunteering. The last 1,5 years I have been volunteering full time for Empower Missions. I also have friends who have dedicated their lives to do likewise – volunteering time and money for the benefit of others.
Although I have met many that appreciate volunteer work, I have met people who don’t accept it as a job, and rather oppose it. Especially in regards to full time volunteer work.
Let me give you some examples.
Volunteering – a Job?
“When are you going to start working again?”, a friend of mine was asked.
Work? He was already doing a lot of work – volunteer work! My friend had just started a business with the purpose of reaching others with the health message. He had another job on the side, generating some income, which was what the person apparently referred to. I have also met similar attitudes.
“Can you come come with us [to a certain country] and help us this week?” was a private request, I received. It was only a week ahead, and I tried to explain that I had other things I should prioritize in my (volunteer) work. He kept insisting…I said I would do it if I was really needed. So, finally I accepted and put my work on hold. He told me he will give me the money back for the tickets. Afterwards, the people involved were disappointed that I didn’t show appreciation for “the paid trip/vacation” that I got. Vacation?! This word was not even close to be linked together in my mind as I was helping them, and especially not considering that I paid for it, which was never reimbursed.
What I have observed is that volunteer work is not always considered a job, neither a priority, or importance. I could have given you more examples.
Have you experienced something similar? Are these people right? Should volunteers quit their work/projects and get a “real” job?
Jesus Called for Volunteer Work
Imagine with me how it was for the disciples, when Christ called them to follow Him, and make them fishers of men.
“‘Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed Him” (Matt 4:19-20).
This was truly radical! Jesus called them, and they left their occupations to follow Him, and volunteered for Him several years.
After the resurrection however, you can see that they went fishing again, but now with changed lives, and different perspective. They continued to dedicate their lives to spreading the gospel, and perhaps for a while, fishing on the side! (Joh 21:1-13).
“You cannot expect people to pay for you.”
“…You are just pretending to be an evangelist.”
I have heard these accusations from a few in the Church.
I can imagine the accusers during the time of Jesus’ ministry, telling the disciples:
“What are you guys doing? Get a job!”
“Why did you leave your occupations?”
“You cannot expect that someone will pay you for doing this”
The disciples had no reason to worry, because they were employed by Jesus! Neither do we need to worry, if we are God’s employees.
He told His disciples:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Nehemiah and Paul
Nehemiah didn’t charge for being a governor, as the former governors had done. He didn’t want to put more burdens on the people that had just returned from captivity.
But he did receive some things to live. (Neh. 5:14-18)
Paul, a tent maker, spent as much time as possible doing volunteer work. Why?
This was his real job and passion, that God called him to do! Although he didn’t ask people for money, people supported his work. (2 Corinthians 11:7-9)
My heart is saddened when I see how volunteer work is opposed, or little appreciated, in some circles. I have always admired missionaries working full time without a promised salary, and when God called me to do the same, I gladly put my business plans to the side, and answered the call, without a promised salary.
“For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17)
However, this is not about money. I don’t expect people to pay me or others for volunteering. I expect and claim though, that God will take care of me for doing the work He has called me to do. And I can testify that He has!
If we want volunteers in our Church, we need to support and encourage, not condemn and discourage.
“And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13)
God Wants to Employ You
In the Great commission found in Matthew 28, Jesus said:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)
He didn’t say “go, if you get paid and if people support you”.
He said “Go ye therefore”, because “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth”. (Matthew 28:18)
For the followers of Christ, this is a job. No, wait – even greater! A high and Holy calling.
Consider these wise words of Paul:
”For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”(1 Tim 6:7-9)
God is offering you a job – More noble and honorable than any other job you can imagine! Jesus as your employer, has called you to preach the gospel (Good news) to the world. This is why we still are here on this earth; to finish the work!
He doesn’t promise earthly riches, but He promise to supply for our needs. Practically it can mean a full time volunteer job, or having a paid job on the side, like Paul. You need to ask God what His calling is for you. Perhaps He is calling you to do more volunteer work?
Will you accept God’s true job offer to you?
If God is our employer, “who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)