Thursday, December 21, 2006

a tale of two nights

Two evenings ago I had a rough night.
Last night was a joy.
Two nights ago I had 15 people signed up to help with a project.
Last night I also had 15 people signed up to help with a project.
Two nights ago -4 people showed up.
Last night 18 people showed up.
Two nights ago, half of the people (2) showed up a half hour late.
Last night 15 people showed up early.
Two nights ago, half of the people (2) left early.
Last night 16 people stayed late.
Last night was a joy...and I'll focus on last night.
They didn't throw around the word "volunteer". They had a job to do, and they did it with excellence. It didn't matter whether or not they were getting paid. They said they'd do it and they did it.
That shouldn't be applauded, that should be expected. That should be the standard.

That they stuck around late and worked really hard throughout their shift....that should be applauded.

Last night was a great night.


  1. Anonymous9:21 AM

    "volunteer" is the worst word in the world of ministry.

  2. Preface: What I'm about to write is something that I know you are well aware of Sean from your work with YL. But more formal organizations seem to have a different dynamic.

    Volunteers are wonderful but if you expect them or obligate them to show up they cease to be volunteers and become indentured servants. In economics I learned that despite the labor being free, endentured servants are the worst labor force. Economies based on indentured servitude or slavery stagnate and eventually undergo a well deserved revolution.

    Apart from the secular analogy, the spiritual ramifications of obligated service uncompelled by Christ can be very detrimental to a person's "walk".

    I don't covet your position Sean, but as someone who spent years working for a small non-profit organization that was dependent upon a large volunteer base I can assure you that people like to be appreciated. Even people who are "serving Christ" enjoy that sincere subdued acknowledgement that what they have done has not just pleased God but also you. I know from first hand knowledge though that programs implemented to obligate people to do something undermine all of that.

    It sounds like you have a mix of volunteers and indentured servants. I'd be willing to bet that the volunteers would continue to do just that and the indentured servants would rather be volunteers. It's all in the perception.

    whew that was a lot of words. I've got to stop drinking such strong coffee.

  3. Anonymous10:17 AM

    When I was there last Sunday, apparently there was a surplus of volunteers, so I was back tying cards to candy canes. This other woman was back there, and kept saying "I didn't come here to tie candy canes, I came here to wrap presents." Finally, an opening at one of the wrapping tables came up and I gladly offered the spot to her--so I could stop listening to her complain. What a lovely attitude...I mean why bother going? I don't envy you having to deal with those types of "volunteers".

  4. "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached(or served). And because of that I rejoice."

    I wish I could say I've always shown up with the right attitude, but I can't! The thing I'm thankful for is that I can look back over my shoulder and see people, along the way, who choose to still walk the road with me. I learned from what they modeled, taught, or saw in me that I didn't.

    It may be Sean's "job" to do this (and I'm gled he is), but it's a responsibility for us all!

  5. I don't know very many people who do things solely for others. Right? No matter what we do, it's always partly about us. Right?

    Ever do something you absolutely hated to serve someone else, that no one ever saw (not even the person you did it for), and that you told no one about?

    Nothing is coming to mind for me.

    I blame Adam and that stupid snake...jerks.

  6. I agree with everyone...
    (takes the sting off if you start with that)

    Paul referred to himself as a slave or bondservant
    The guys he hung out with talked about dying to yourself, carrying your cross, and don't go see Borat (or something like that)

    I really don't think volunteers of indentured servants are looking for a pat on the back. I know they're looking to see how what they're doing is creating change.

    I would love to be a part of setting people up to see real fruit (good results, change...) in the lives of those around them.

    I can't do that if I keep sending them flowers and hugging them when they drive by the place, honk and say they're on board.

    There is no better way to appreciate people than to put them in a position to do what they ultimately came to a part of change (could be in any role)

    we've rolled the bar across the floor, asked people to jump over it, and then put together a volunteer appreciation dinner with flowers and a plaque to all who tried their best...

    and we've sold them short...
    we let them settle for something less

    what the crap do I know?

  7. I think that Steve and I should start dating. Our first date would be to go see Borat. Who's in?

    My point was that two nights ago you experienced a group of people who were not compelled by their bondage to Christ to be at the mall wrapping presents for strangers but rather compelled by a contract they signed with their church to give a certain amount of time a week. For all we know the lady "who came here to wrap presents not tie bows on candy canes" doesn't even know Jesus, or maybe she does but she's obviously not at that point yet. Either way if I showed up to have my present wrapped by a church and God's love was demonstrated to me through the grumblings of someone who sounds like they are working at the post office on Christmas Eve I wouldn't be overwhelmed by Jesus' all embracing love. [Sorry Drew. That was aimed at you. I still love you like a brother.]

    When I see a person broken down by the side of the road and I stop to help, it isn't because of a contract I have signed it's because I am compelled by Christ within me. It certainly isn't because I wanted to do it out of the kindness of my own heart which is thinking, "Damn it! Now I'm going to be late for my date with Steve to see Borat!"

    And I certainly wasn't recommending an appreciation dinner for volunteers but in a "sincere and subdued" way as a leader of these people they need to know with a look or a simple "thanks" that they are appreciated. They're people. I'm sure you do that but I never knew just how much it mattered until I was in that leadership position. If Paul the Apostle shows up to wrap presents at the mall then I'm guessing he won't protest if you do. He might even appreciate it.

    Believe it or not I wasn't trying to stir the pot with my comment. I was simply offering an explanation as to the inexplicability of the drastic difference between the two nights from what little knowledge I have gleaned in this life.

    Wanna meet up at Molly Malone's in Pleasant Ridge tonight for a mix tape masterpiece exchange? You could put Duke of Earl and 9 comedy sketches on as your 10 song CD.

  8. So, when is this date?

    I put out. (But we all already knew that, didn't we.)

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