This is new territory for me. It is definitely not what I would consider to be an area of expertise. I must admit it right up front.
I’ve wanted to do more, but I never quite get to it. This is another area where I need to grow up. Right now, I’m in the learning process in the middle of people who know a lot more from experience than I. Most of my experience in the past has been through failure and frustration.
The past 5 years I have been working quite a bit and it really took a lot out of me physically. For women, especially moms, this is also a reality. There are just so many hours in the day and with all the responsibilities you have, there are stages in your life that you can’t be involved in everything you would like to be.
Just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it has to go to the bottom of the list!
However, I am including these outreach areas in the last few days here because I want it to be on your mind. It is often something you as a family can do and it is helpful to your children’s growth to be looking outward instead of only to their own interests and desires.
Often as a family, you can do projects together that will help all of you grow in areas you need to, in outreach to your community. No, they will not always be comfortable…but they will be great for the growth of you and your family.
A great book to help in your growth: WHEN HELPING HURTS
A book we are working through in Sunday School (they are called Sunday Seminars in our new church) is not terribly new, but is a must for people involved in any kind of outreach. The title? WHEN HELPING HURTS by Corbett & Fikkert. It is very eye-opening regarding attitudes that need to be healed in us before we start helping others…as well as while we are helping them, especially those who are less privileged than we are.
It also talks about the ways we harm people by many of our current practices as we help them…making them dependent on us instead of using the talents and resources they have to develop.
Learn to work together with others from different churches and backgrounds
In this city many of the churches work together in terms of knowing who has which resources available for what situations and they cooperate with each other so there isn’t a lot of wasted effort. Take this as my recommendation to get this book and read it as preparation for ministry outside of your home.
The best way to read it might be to study it with a group of similarly motivated friends…maybe even from different churches in your community, as you plan and dream for what GOD could do there.
Where do I start?
When looking for places to minister,
- Start by praying for GOD to show you where He wants you to work and what He wants you to do.
- Ask around at your church and in your community for areas that need help. For example, if you know you want to help in a literacy program, ask around and look on the internet to see what is happening in your area. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. When you start, work with an organization that is already functioning.
- If you don’t know where you want to work/volunteer, find places that need help.
- When you find where you plan to minister, find out when you will be needed and be dependable. If they are counting on you at certain times, be on time. If you are unable to make it, be sure to give them notice so they will be able to get a substitute.
Working in a place that is set up to help people in an area of interest for you is a great place to start. They may not do everything the way you want it done, but they are ministering to people on some level and you are gaining experience in doing the work.
As you gain experience, keep track of areas you would like to do differently and why. Talk to leadership and find out why they do what they do. (Use language in your questions that is non-confrontative. If you don’t know how to do this, find someone you know who can coach you. It is an immensely important skill to learn!)
You may learn more about laws, funding, the culture of the community where you are working, and practical information you weren’t aware of. Make note of that information as well.
Don’t be critical or judgemental for now…you are learning
Be extremely careful NOT to criticize the work the organization is doing. Consider you work with them as a learning experience. Learn to be objective and not judgemental. State opinions in forms such as, “I could be wrong but…” or “I think there is a detail I’m missing here, could you help me understand why…” In order to ask questions that way, you must believe what you are saying!
You must be humble enough to know that by working someplace for a few weeks or months, you don’t know as much as the person who has been there and in charge for years. There is no doubt they may have blind spots, but you may have them too and your ability to be humble about how little you know is essential.
Skills needed: flexibility, humility, work ethic, pleasantness on the job and respect for people as being made in GOD’s image
Your pleasantness and agreeableness on the job, your flexiblity as a volunteer, your humility as a questioner, your work ethic…all will go together in making you someone they will want to interact with. Or someone they will want to avoid because you are argumentative and only asking questions as a ruse to make your points.
You can have your opinions but you don’t have to pass them on. You will need to maintain all the relationships you have for the future and present. Right now, you are learning humility.
Learn everything you can about the inner workings of the organization if this is something that interests you. Ask questions and at some point in the future, there may be more for you to do…if that is what you would like.
Meanwhile, minister to the people there like there is no tomorrow…and as if you are ministering to Jesus! It will revolutionize the work you do…anywhere!
So, whether you are caring for your family, volunteering to help those in need, working in your church or job…the same priniciples need to apply in terms of your work…learn to flexible, humble, have a good work ethic, be pleasant and respect people for who they are–humans made in the image of GOD!
I’m going to have to talk on this subject more next week. I didn’t even get to my favorite parts of the book and how they look at the “needs” in our communities. More to come! Part 2 is here.
Meditate on: Matthew 6-7:14
Read/Study: When Helping Hurts by Corbett and Fikkert