Giving Our Time

Lately, I’ve re-thought my views on volunteering. If you saw my 12 Goals of 2012 list you know that the goal for February was to start volunteering. It has been something that has been on my heart a lot lately. For the past 3 years I’ve been working so much with teens in ministry that I had forgotten what it was like to volunteer my time. I forgotten what it was like to give of my time because I wanted to and not because it was my job. So, I decided to put an end to that and to really give of my time, but as I went about the volunteering process I didn’t know where to start.

There are a few soup kitchens scattered around the area, there are nursing homes, there are other ministries and other programs, but, honestly, it all seemed a bit overwhelming. Working two ministries means it isn’t always easy giving of my time, and I wanted to invest in people long term, and not just for a month or two. So, I really took some time and thought about the whole thing.

As I began this process I saw the faces of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. The most interesting thing is that these faces were of people who lived the closest to me. As I thought about volunteering all I could picture, for some reason, was the faces of my neighbors. All that came to my mind was my relatives across the fields; Gina and Tom next store; Lenora and her husband down the way; Brooks and Janet a little further down the road and my Uncle Dave and Aunt Connie. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but in those thoughts I began to reshape my view of volunteering.

What would it look like if I invested/volunteered time with my neighbors/family?

How would that inspire me to be bold in my faith?

How would that enable me to live more like Christ in all I do?

How would such acts impact and encourage them? 

These seemed intriguing questions to me, and so I decided to volunteer in a different way. Not that serving at homeless shelters, soup kitchens or salvation army is wrong, but to me it just seemed too easy. One of the hardest things for me is re-introducing myself to people I already know. People that I have neglected, people whose names I have forgotten, people who I haven’t lived Christ out to. So, I decided last month to begin a process of volunteering my time to my neighbors. I decided that each week I would intentionally reach out to one of these relatives/neighbors.

Here are some of the results so far: 

– I reconnected with my cousin Matt. He is going to be drawing a sketch for an Art Show at the Barn next month. I met one of his friends. I heard about his passions with music, what inspires him, and even saw some of his current projects. He also told me how to fix my car (even though I probably won’t). After talking with him today I invited him over for a campfire sometime.

– While I was over talking with Matt, I got to spend time talking with my Aunt Frannie, Uncle Larry and other cousin Ryan, and got to spend time hearing all about their lives and what has been going on.

– I found out my neighbor Lenora and her husband are moving next week. I found out that she has a relative who does art and got to tell her about the Art Show. I told her I’d drop a flyer off when I get them. She mentioned that I should come over and visit, even when they have moved. I’m hoping to get down there next week to help them in anything they need for the move.

– A little while ago I gave cookies and CD’s to all my neighbors for Christmas (I know this was before the challenge, but I wanted to share it anyway). From this  I got to spend about 30 mins hearing stories from my neighbor Janet. (I hadn’t been in her house since I was a little boy). She told me some of the funniest stories and told me about all the changes in her house (since I sold her magazines as a fundraiser when I as like 12). It was a great time. Also, I got to spend a bit of time with Gina and Tom next store and was told just yesterday that they loved my CD.

I’m looking forward to intentionally giving my time to them in the near future. From this all I have gained a new courage and boldness to live out Christ to all those I come in contact with. It is actually super encouraging!

How are you seeking to intentionally get to know your neighbors?


About Jeremiah Dowling

I write poetry and take crazy pictures in an Orange Chair all over the United States while reading amazing books.

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