To Our Dear I.S. Volunteers on Christmas 2008,
I don’t take enough time to truly share my appreciation and respect for all that you do to serve throughout the year. As technologists, engineers and such, many of us like to look past the surface of things. We like to go deeper into issues, to figure how and why things work. And so…I thought you deserved more that a trite thank you note; I thought I would take some time today to really study you, our volunteers…to truly express to you in real terms how valuable your effort is to the community of Christ and God’s great purposes here on Earth. When all is said and done, you are not simply just a volunteer; you are a Kingdom volunteer for our most high God. This may sound dramatic and emotional to you analytical types out there. Read on…After Careful analysis, I have discovered three words that prove how amazing you are…volunteer, purpose and you.
Word # 1 – Volunteer
Volunteer – It really is an amazing word that describes exceptional people carrying out an amazing concept. It is a word that deserves exploration. Dictionary.com defines this word as a noun that describes a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking – willingly and without pay.
It is actually rooted in the Latin word voluntarius which means “of ones free will.” Voluntarius is rooted in the Latin word voluntas which is translated as “will”. I could keep going with the etymology of this amazing word, but I will spare you further details. For our purpose it is safe to say that when we take a close look at the this word, the concept of volunteerism, at its core, is a matter of one’s will…one’s free will to wish, desire, want and choose.
Think about it. Throughout our lives we are faced with countless choices to spend our time, talent and treasure on an endless array of activities. So often we are faced with the temptation of submitting to the pursuit of answering the question, “What’s in it for me?” I did a quick little search at http://www.amazon.com for books on the subject of “self improvement” and found 44,980 resources to choose from. While I think it is critical for us to own our responsibility to grow, develop our gifts and reach our full potential as we live out our one and only lives on Earth. I also believe that if we are not careful, we all can find ourselves applying the entirety of our precious “free will” toward the lonely and futile pursuit of self gain. We can all too easily miss the richness and true fulfillment that is found when we voluntarily offer ourselves for the service of others.
Perhaps that is why I love the word volunteer so much. First…it is a noun…that is… it is a person…someone of substance…real…taking up space and time. Second, since the word volunteer is rooted in the verb “will”…we can conclude that the concept of volunteerism is…at its core, a verb…that is…it is bent on action; action that is focused on serving others, and that’s pretty cool.
In contrast to a world that seems to be intoxicated by its devotion to personal growth and improvement. The volunteer chooses, of his or her own free will to give themselves toward the pursuit of helping others. Ironically, people who choose this life style often discover that volunteerism offers more personal growth than when they pursue self improvement alone.
Word # 2 – Purpose
Now that we have established how precious the concept of volunteerism is, let’s take it a step further. When we combine the concept of volunteerism with the power and purpose of God, we have a true force to reckon with.
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to discover God’s great purpose. Matthew 28:19-20 tells us to go out into the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey everything Jesus taught us. Isaiah 58:6-7 tells us to loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, share our food with the hungry, provide shelter for the poor wanderer, and clothe the naked. There are countless more examples of God’s purposes for us here on Earth, the point is that there is something profound and amazing about combining the concept of freely and willingly offering ourselves to the service of others with the eternal, transformational power of God. I am overwhelmed by the thought of what could be accomplished if more people would choose to be this kind of volunteer.
Word #3 – YOU!
Finally, this comes back to you. You are “this kind of volunteer.” You could choose to spend your weekends, evenings and days doing all kinds of activities. Instead, you choose, of your own free will, to spend your precious time, talent and treasure to serve others for the fulfillment of God’s great purposes here on Earth.
You are living examples of God’s word as you fulfill passages like those found in Matthew 25, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” You live out First Corinthians 15:58 where it tells us to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the God’s work. You know that your labor is not in vain. You live out Christs greatest example of volunteerism in that he willingly and freely offered himself to come to us and to die for our sins.
After careful study. I can say with great conviction, humility and gratitude that I hold you in the extremely high regard.
To those of you who:
- write software
- provide strategic analysis
- provide technical support
- serve in our Computer Connection
- provide wisdom, leadership and direction
- improve the quality of our data and information
- share their spouses and loved ones so they can serve
- manage projects
- develope training materials and documention
I can’t imagine how our websites, Promiseland checkin, Seeds Bookstore, Computer Connection, Telecommunications, Regional Churches, Weekend Services, Camp, Classes, Harvest, Email, Events, eTickets, Volunteerism, Connection, Membership, Accounting and Finance and so much more would function without you. As volunteers in Information Systems you really do impact all facets of our local church and through our Computer Connection, you have a significant impact on our world as you connect job skills and computer resources to people in need.
Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for so many…
Now without further delay, some other folks at Willow wanted to express their appreciation to you. I have posted it below for those of you who could not make it to our Christmas party…enjoy
Most Sincerely, Mike