Q: “If you desire to volunteer in ministry that is open-ended as far as timelines/deadlines, how do you keep motivated to put this as a priority (like a self-imposed priority, not a required one), when “life” and family demands for time keep pushing your volunteerism to the bottom of your to-do list?”
A: You’re wise to combine a desire to serve in a ministry with wisdom and discernment. We all need both to be faithful and effective as we serve.
The first thing I notice is your desire to serve. This is not a small point. Take it from someone who has been in a lot of leadership positions. When I’ve had to ask others to serve, that desire is often not the response.
The second thing I notice is your discernment. You already realize that balancing life and family demands and serving in ministry well and faithfully is going to require intentionality.
So with that good starting place, here’s what I would commend to you:
- Remember. There must be something compelling you to this ministry—either a prompting from the Holy Spirit, a need you clearly see, a skill you have that fits a need, or a combination of those things. As the needs of your family, friends, job, or daily life come, purposefully remind yourself of that prompting or need that first drew you to this ministry. Take time to remember what compelled you to the ministry in the first place. It help you set it in its proper priority.
- Set goals. Even if there aren’t timelines or deadlines set by someone else involved in this ministry, that doesn’t mean you can’t set some of your own! Begin by setting realistic and manageable goals and adjust if your time or effort is needed elsewhere. Setting some goals and a rough timeline for those goals at the outset will set a pattern for your service.
- Prioritize. Any time you realize that you have pushed volunteerism to the bottom of your to-do list, don’t let it stay there. Remember that serving is a way you display Christ in your home, neighborhood, church, and any other context where you spend your time and energy. It is essential for our children to witness us serving. It also sets an example to our friends, helps the people involved, and is necessary for both the church and the world around us.
I urged you to regularly remember what compelled you to this ministry in the first place. I invite you to take that remembering a few steps further and remember what compels and enables you, as a follower of Christ, to do anything:
[He also] raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:6–10, emphasis added)
May you be fueled for and clearly see every purpose God has for you!