A new year and decade have begun–wow! I love this season of looking ahead with hope. What will the year bring? What are we striving for in the next twelve months? These are some of the questions we begin to ask both individually and collectively at the turn of the year. But there’s a deeper question under those. The real question is: who do I want to be and how close am I to being her or him?
I recently attended a conference that used a tool to help local nonprofit leaders evaluate their lives and establish one word that would be our guiding principle for this year. The point was not to set a list of superficial goals that would help us get things accomplished, but rather to help us live in a transformative way, using our one word to become who we believe we are called to be.
Robin is called to be a volunteer. Robin is perky. She is a petite bit of sunshine bouncing around The Clinics every day; the first to arrive, often the last to leave. Robin is our volunteer coordinator. But she did not start off as staff. At far too young an age, Robin’s husband experienced a stroke that took his life. The unexpected and devasting loss that Robin and her daughters were experiencing left them lost. Sometimes it’s in these moments, when we have no direction of our own, that God steps in and calls us to where and to what we need. As part of her own healing Robin decided to start volunteering. She tried a couple of places that didn’t fit, and one day a friend mentioned The Clinics. Robin showed up, got quickly oriented, and fell right into her call. She was asked how often she would like to come, and “Everyday please” was her reply. That was four years ago.
Robin was grieving, and God called her to something. She will be the first tell you, “The Clinics saved my life.” When we think of The Clinics, we think of the patients who are helped, who are cared for and find something they desperately need. But Robin’s story demonstrates the powerful truth of the wisdom that in giving we receive. Her story is not uncommon at The Clinics. In fact, it is the story of 40 medical doctors, 9 midlevel providers, 43 dentists, and nearly 100 administrative volunteers. Their call to serve serves them. There is not one volunteer with whom I have spoken who has not said in some string of words the message that they get something valuable out of the giving of themselves to our patients.
My favorite story of calling in the scriptures is that of Moses. There he was, imperfect and feeling unequipped, called by God to life-long, difficult leadership of an oppressed, traumatized and often misguided people. His response? “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:10-12).
God gives. God gives something to us when we give to God’s people. God provides. God provides what we need for the journey. God shows us, and God shows up. If volunteering is calling you, imperfect and unequipped as you may feel, trust that. Explore options. Show up and let God.
What calls you? What do you need? Who do you want to be? What’s in the way?