I love Jamie’s emphasis on not serving out of obligation or guilt, and I think that’s an important conversation that we, especially as women, need to have. There are so many opportunities for “guilt service”—at church and our children’s schools and pretty much anything else that comes across our path—because we feel like we should be giving back even if those opportunities don’t fit our passions or values or gifts.
And there are definitely seasons when your service will look different, when you need to focus on your own children or your husband. There are even seasons when you just need to focus on yourself so you’ll be in a place where you can serve others for all of the right reasons.
But what about when you want to serve, when you’ve found your passion and the cause or organization or opportunity that gets your blood pumping…and you simply can’t find the time to make it happen without pushing you over the edge?
I think when that happens, it’s a clear sign that things are out of “balance” in our lives (in truth, I don’t really like the idea of balance at all, but it seems like the best illustration of the point I’m trying to make). Sometimes that busyness is a matter of necessity—working an extra job, caring for a special needs child, etc. But often, it can be a sign that we’ve lost sight of our priorities and are no longer living according to the things we say we value.
It may mean that it’s time to evaluate our lives and make decisions about how we spend our time—whether it’s participating in an outside activity or simply the amount of TV we watch—to make time for what really matters to us.
My friend Tanna Clark is a perfect example of this, and her story often inspires and challenges me.
A few years ago, Tanna found herself with a growing passion for a small community and orphanage in Haiti but without the time or money to really make a difference. As her passion grew, she and her family actually sold their home and moved into a much smaller house so that they would have more of both.
Tanna also shut down her blog and her organizing business so that she could focus on their new passion, and she founded a charity called Grace & Glory Kids, an organization that works with children in both Haiti and the U.S. to provide for not only their physical needs but also to give them superhero capes and offer them hope and love. They’ve built a school in Haiti and offer monthly support to keep it running, and they run an incredible High School Heroes program to inspire local teens to give back as well.
I’m not saying we’re all called to go out and start a charity, but the point is that in order to make room to do all of this, Tanna and her family had to make some hard choices about how they were spending their time and money. She didn’t have enough of either to pursue this dream without being intentional about how they were spending both.
The question, then, for us, is whether our lives, our schedules and our budgets reflect our values. (And by the way, I think it’s okay to say yes, even if you haven’t started a charity in your spare time!) Focusing on your family or your job or whatever it might be may be exactly what you should be doing. But if you often find yourself wishing you could serve more in your local community or the organization of your heart, then it might be time to reevaluate and make some tough decisions to make space for that to happen!
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
- Have you discovered the causes and serving opportunities that you’re passionate about? Do you feel like you have enough time to volunteer or pursue those opportunities?
- Sometimes in life we have to evaluate things not as good versus bad but as good, better and best. Are there any good activities that might be keeping you from the best?