Do you ever feel like life is swirling around you and you want to stop it but you just don’t know how? One minute it’s Christmas and the next time you breathe, you’re on Summer vacation. You’re at the hospital welcoming your new grandchild, but it seems like just yesterday your daughter was curled up in your lap listening to you read her a bedtime story. Where does the time go? How do we make it more valuable?
At today’s helter skelter pace, it’s easy for me to get caught up in my responsibilities and forget to really live. It’s easy to be so concerned with what my wife thinks, what my boss thinks or what the neighbors think that I end up living a life I don’t want trying to impress others or live up to the world’s ever-increasing and unreachable standards. As the adage says, “I worked so hard climbing the ladder just to realize when I got to the top that it was leaning against the wrong wall.”
How can we make sure we’re living joyful, meaningful lives amid all the hurt and turmoil in the world?
How can we build wonderful memories for us and our children and grandchildren to reminisce about as we grow older? How can we build traditions our families can relish in rather than run from?
How can we feel better about ourselves and where our life is headed even if we have a dead-end job or cancer has struck our family or depression seems to rule our life?
This won't be a surprise, but there’s only one answer to these questions. We need to turn to the Bible and God’s plan for our life. That's pretty much what you probably expected to read, isn't it? Well stick with me because now we're getting into the good stuff...
God’s principles for life usually seem foreign to us as sinners – or at least they often do to me. For instance, we often search long and hard for his will when it comes to who we should marry or what school we should go to or which job to take. But when it comes to our daily living, we often don’t give him or his principles much thought – we just go through the motions without thinking very much about what we’re doing.
The funny thing is, though, if we would flip that around and intentionally live our lives every day based upon the principles of his word, the big decisions would take care of themselves.
For example, one of the core principles of Christian belief is we are to serve others both inside and outside of the church; especially orphans, widows and the poor. If we purposefully take action and embed this belief into our life, it will become part of our family’s DNA. It will pull our focus off ourselves and place it where Jesus says it should be – on God and on others.
Photo from Feed My Starving Children
What do we get out of aligning our focus with God’s principles and intentionally serving others?
When I was in the Air Force, we had a quarterly awards program. To be competitive, you needed top performance in your job, of course. But to set yourself apart from all the other top performers, you really needed some continuing education and community service activities as well. The advice I gave people was very simple; be strategic and opportunistic when it comes to volunteer activities.
Be strategic by finding one place that really interests you to serve in on an on-going basis. This could be your child’s school, your church, a pregnancy center, or any other place that gives you the chance to make a difference in a cause God has put on your heart. This strategic serving opportunity gives you the chance to be involved in long-term, complex projects that can truly help change your community and people’s lives.
Be opportunistic by choosing one “pop up” volunteer activity per week, per month or per quarter to participate in. These opportunistic activities usually take from a few hours to a whole day or weekend to complete. You can show up, help out and then leave. It could be helping at a fund raiser or praying at an abortion clinic or planting flowers in a community garden. I call them opportunistic because they don’t take any long term commitment or energy. All they take is a few hours of time and a willing volunteer.
Since moving to North Carolina a couple months ago, I haven’t gotten my serving feet wet yet. I haven’t really started the strategic portion of my strategy and just recently did my first opportunistic serving activity. If you’d like to follow as I get involved in more things, please check out my Serving Others page.
If you’re looking for places to serve in your community, I’d recommend starting at your church. Surely there is a way for you to serve fellow believers there with your gifts and skills. Your pastor or church staff can probably point you toward some charities or outreach ministries that would love to have your help as well.
Confession time: Whenever I serve for the first time at a new place, I feel a little nervous. Before I arrive, I wonder if I’ll really be of help and how I’m going to be received and how will I know where to go once I’m there. I’ve discovered if I just ignore these doubts and step into the discomfort, God provides a way either through one of the veteran servants at the new place or through the intelligence he’s given me. The initial dread of meeting new people and being in a new situation is quickly overcome by the friendliness of other volunteers and the good feeling of helping others.
If you found value in this article, please comment on which of the 13 benefits means the most to you. You comment below would be an encouragement to me and very valuable to the site. Thanks for taking the time and reading to the end!