I’ve been planning an adventure. My husband and I will have a few days in the UK outside of London, and so we needed to devise a plan. We’re decided on Scotland, but with minimal time we can’t see it all. We’ve been asking others, “Where do we go and what do we do there?” The more I research it, the more choices I like. Help!
What do you do when you can’t do it all?
This question also plagues us when we want to serve God. There are so many ways to use our gifts. Thankfully knowing how God made us eliminates many choices that don’t fit who God designed us to be. (Yes, there are times when we operate outside those gifts, but when we look for major expenditures of time and energy, it’s best to stick to opportunities which allow the Spirit to work through us in extraordinary ways.) When Paul describes the gifts to the Corinthian church he clarifies that our gifts are for the common good of the church (1 Cor. 12:7), so we invest there as a starting place, including its volunteer opportunities with people outside its walls. And then beyond that are myriads of places to serve. Discover what’s available, and try out options that appeal to you as you look for the right fit.
Don’t forget that you serve God in your workplace and neighborhood when you love on the people around you. Although we don’t choose them in the same way, we must ask ourselves how well we’re doing at it.
After I left church staff, I had more time for other places of ministry: our homeowner’s association, making friends in my water aerobics class and, of course, as a volunteer in our church. And I’ve used my gifts in all of those places.
A similar question is where do we give after providing for our local church. With so many needs and an abundance of choices, how do we choose?
Focus on the causes that draw your heart. Where are the needs in the world and near your home? Consider balancing your donations between groups that meet physical needs and ministries that prepare leaders for discipleship and evangelism.
To narrow your options, research a group’s beliefs, leadership and purpose. How much money do they actually use for ministry and how much is for administration and fundraising? If you’re considering a small and/or new ministry, ask about their experience. For example, although BOW is only a few years old, our ministry team has education and years of experience in leadership and teaching.
In recent months as I’ve grieved over the needs at the border, I knew that I had to help. By reading articles and stories written by trusted leaders, I found churches and groups doing difficult and successful work there to show Christ’s love to people there.
Although it’s hard and time-consuming to do research—whether for a trip or to serve others, wisdom from research and prayer help us invest well in God’s work.