Serving Others During the Holidays . . . And Beyond?

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Today starts the season when hundreds of thousands of people will volunteer more than usual to help make the holidays special for the less fortunate.  It’s an amazing time of year to see so many people coming together to feed the homeless, throw Christmas parties for underprivileged kids, visit the elderly and donate to “gift trees”. At the same time, Thanksgiving and Christmas can be bittersweet for organizations who try to mobilize volunteers (and money) throughout the rest of the year.

My husband runs a ministry (on a volunteer basis) that serves chili to local homeless people every Thursday. There are about 10 core volunteers who commit to this weekly. Thanksgiving happens to be the one Thursday that the ministry does NOT serve because there are so many other groups who show up to serve on that day specifically. The other 51 weeks of the year, it’s just Bryan and his fellow volunteers with a couple of tables serving chili to 300 homeless people in downtown Santa Ana.
Last week, two large groups called wanting to serve chili on Thanksgiving. Bryan explained they would not be serving that night but that he would love for them to come any other week. In both cases, they politely thanked him for his time and hung up.

It would be easy, if not trite, to place blame on people for only serving on designated holidays. The bigger question for consideration is, what STOPS Christians from consistently serving, despite knowing it is our explicit calling? In raising our kids to be Christ followers, is serving not a critical matter? I can’t answer for everyone, but since I personally am guilty of not consistently serving, I’ll let you in my head.

I’ve considered mentoring a foster teen. I’ve looked into tutoring elementary kids at a shelter. I’ve thought about “adopting” an elderly person to visit in a nursing home. But then my mind starts spinning: With all of my “mom” responsibilities, how can I find time to regularly serve? I surely don’t want to commit to anything. Then they will depend on me. What if it becomes too much and I have to keep going back anyway? Worse yet, what if I decide to stop and totally let someone down? Even if I decide to do it, what exactly should I do? What are my gifts? Maybe I should Google “Spiritual Gifts Quiz”. 

For me, this internal dialogue leads to . . . absolutely nothing. No serving at all, because I’m seeing serving as an “event” (or series of “events”). I’m overthinking it and building it into something it’s not. I realized this week that if I started with even the smallest ways of serving that are all around me, all the time, I would be much more likely to serve consistently. Since Jesus calls us to serve as a way of life, consistency is of highest importance! With that in mind, I hope you’ll join me in the challenge below.

 

Today’s Thought:

What (if any) mental barriers do you put up to serving consistently?

 

Today’s Action:

Make serving less of an “event”. Commit to doing something – anything – for someone else with your kids one time per week. This can be something as small as sending an encouraging note to someone or shoveling snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk. Have your kids decide what it is you do each week so they are fully vested in the commitment. The goal is to teach our kids that serving opportunities are everywhere, all the time. I’m going to implement this myself starting this week and will report back in future posts. Will you join me?

7 Comments

  1. Jennifer on November 24, 2011 at 10:07 AM

    I like to serve in ways that I can incorporate into daily life. I really don’t like adding things to my week. I’d rather be a foster parent, which is a full time ministry, than go volunteer once a week! But that’s just me! I’m weird, I know!



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on November 24, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      That’s not weird at all! 🙂 Being a foster parent is an amazing way to serve. My hope in this post was to say that if we only understand “serving” to be BIG things (like fostering, or committing to a volunteer activity every week, etc.), we might never end up serving at all because it can be intimidating (not for you, and that’s wonderful!).

      I hope to encourage others that there are numerous small ways to serve any day that can have big impact – something as small as baking cookies to take an elderly person who doesn’t get visitors. What is important is that we are doing SOMETHING, and doing something consistently! That’s why I’m going to start being more intentional about serving on a weekly basis, picking activities with the kids that will teach them (and me!)to see all kinds of ways to make a difference for others in the name of Jesus.



      • Jennifer on December 6, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        But I AM weird, see? To me, fostering is less work than committing to something weekly, or even committing to a one time all day thing. I like things that can just fit into my every day life and become part of the routine! 😉

        Now here’s a question for you–how do you plan to get your kids involved in serving and making that a joyful thing for them? Miss O gets service hours (awards) through her Americn Heritage Girls (like Girl Scouts), so her thing is taking out the trash. She has to do it 60 times to get one star! But in my mind, they are already serving, by being such amazing siblings to Mimi and seeking to understand the fact that she is only going to be with us temporarily. Course, they don’t realize that’s even service!



  2. jackie on November 24, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    eli did her first service project a few weeks ago. we handed out napkins at the vet day breakfast. it was awesome! i just try to starty small with one time events where eli can help do something.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      Jackie, Great for Eli! 🙂



  3. Jessie Mendoza on December 22, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    My volunteering takes me out of my comfort zone which helps me to grow in a spiritual way. Finding time to volunteer is not easy but like anything else once volunteering is put on your weekly or monthly schedule it will become easier.



    • Natasha @ Christian Mom Thoughts on December 23, 2011 at 2:27 PM

      Jessie, I think what you are saying is very true; once it is on your “schedule” it becomes easier. But taking that first step to commit is what can be so intimidating! Thanks for commenting!