You know that whole “don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk” cliche they used to throw around in youth group? Maybe there’s something to it. As much as we hate to admit that a cliche might be right, it’s one thing to challenge ourselves to be more intentional with our time, but it’s a whole other thing to actually do something about it. And it’s pretty easy to think about doing something yet never act on it. (Slacktivism, anyone?)
So our churches are obvious places for sharing our gifts. In fact, they should be the first place we sign up to serve. But for some of us, we need to go beyond even that. Some of us are in a rut of going to work and coming home daily and filling our calendar with social activities in between. Very little sacrifice is required of us, and we know that’s not a healthy way to live.
And then there are those of us who need ideas for volunteering because we still haven’t committed to a local church, and until we do, we need an outlet to help us get outside of ourselves and our own lives and problems. (About that local church commitment: Get on it.)
Even though we don’t necessarily want to give up our free fun time, if we were honest with ourselves, we’d have to admit our lives have become very self-focused, and we could spare a few hours here and there to fill a need others’ have. Not for the sake of added busyness, but to keep us from stewarding our time as our own time and not the Lord’s.
But where? Outside of church, where are some places to start looking?
SingleRoots Writers Say…
For wise counsel, we asked some of our SingleRoots alumni writers to weigh in on the matter. Here’s what they had to say:
“You are speaking my love language! Okay the options are endless here. Now I do live in a major metropolitan city in the South that is known for volunteerism (and I moved here four years ago from another great VOLunteer city) but it just takes you some time to dig into what interests you. Here in Nashville we have ‘Hands On Nashville’ which is a central hub for all volunteer activity within the city. You can find things from all across town to be involved with from marathon water station volunteers to American Red Cross Bingo Night. I love animals so I chose to volunteer as a dog walker at my local humane society. There’s also opportunity for you to serve within your church community. See if there’s a greeting team, or set up team for the service, or even parking volunteers. Check out the local rescue missions or Habitat builds that might be happening in the spring. You just never know until you start doing some research.”
:: Sara Stacy, author of Have You Considered the Legacy You’re Leaving?
“I live in a small, rural community, and there was a need for local guys to help out with the volunteer fire department. It was something that had never occurred to me, but when the call went out, it made sense that I would sign up. I could easily meet those needs when they would arise. When I moved to my small town, I assumed finding places to volunteer would be more difficult, but what I learned was that there are always needs–big and small–it just looks different that it did in the city where I lived before. There isn’t always one big organization drawing people in. Sometimes, it’s just about being available to meet needs.”
:: John, author of Single Men in the Church [Part 4]: Absent Without Leave
“I think the best question to begin with is: What are you interested in? That can be a huge factor in determining where to volunteer. Do you love kids? Do you have a heart for senior citizens, refugees, literacy programs? Once you determine where you’d like to spend your time, ask your friends and co-workers if they know of any places that need help in that area. If not, Google it. I found a lot of nonprofits I didn’t know existed when I started looking for places to volunteer based on a specific area of need that I knew I was interested in.”
:: Liesl Bennett, author of Never Been Kissed…or in Love
Explore the Topic Further…
For further discussion on how to serve and volunteer as a single person, check out these posts:
Pride, Guilt, or Joy: What’s Your Motivation? – “Ministering to other people should be a joy because it is God letting us take part in what he is doing in the lives of other people. Granted, it may not be joyful every time, but let God be the one who rewards you for your service. I’ve heard he has an excellent track record in the way of blessings.”
Ministering to Orphans :: 11 Ways You Can Get Involved on the Local Level – “Taking care of orphans and widows is a mandate from God found throughout Scripture. Many Christians believe that caring for orphans and widows is primarily a married person’s job; however, single Christians can get involved in what God is doing around the globe to meet the needs of the fatherless in many ways.”
I’ll Follow Christ Anywhere…After I Find a Spouse: 4 Tips for Hesitant Singles – “She is one of the hidden multitude who feel the same tension—desiring a radical life, but afraid to step into the vast unknown without first finding the support of a spouse. So what are the options? Keep waiting? Go overseas alone, and suppress the desire for a family? Or maybe she should settle for a man whose life calling is more ordinary, more domestic and try to fill in the void by volunteering with international students?”
How Can I Be More Intentional with My Free Time When I’m Single? – “Being intentional with our time means a lot of things to a lot of people. Bottom line, it’s important for singles to create margin in their lives for stewarding their time well. Otherwise, we could easily build a nice little insulated life that is really comfortable yet lacking substance and meaning.”