To me, volunteering is time and talent bundled together – often charitable but not often generous. Why is that?
Probably because we are stuck in this notion that service to others is good and the more we do, the better we are.
In fact, service is so good that we’ve made it a graduation requirement for most high schools. Mandatory service? Somehow, this does not square up with generosity to me.
When we make students volunteer, the experience can be great for building character and skills. I’m sure these kids are making a difference.
But are we also teaching them to see volunteering as a chore they have to squeeze into a very busy time of their lives?
Recently, I was with a couple who resigned from all boards and committees that do not match their hearts’ desire. There were twelve resignations between them.
Amazed at the newfound time and energy, they doubled down on the two volunteer opportunities where they could do what they are good at. She was singing and playing a piano with and for special needs kids, and he was hammering, nailing and making sawdust with Habitat for Humanity.
Now that’s spending strengths rather than trading time and talent!
My hope is that more of us will see volunteering as an invitation, not an obligation. And we can freely accept that invitation when it matches our strengths and our desire to change the world.
Have you explored your strengths and your heart’s desire around generosity? My book, Connected for Good: A Gameplan for a Generous Life, will show you how.