Service is a Gift

As the holiday season gets in full swing, I get excited for this time of sharing, giving and receiving. It got me to thinking not about tangible gifts, but about those precious ones like the gift of time.

Our circle is full of people who give to us so generously, but also give to others around them. I thought I’d spend December talking to friends who give their time through work and service in the community. It’s my way of showing the difference that giving makes not just during the holidays, but all year long.

This week, my focus is on my friend Celeste and her 17-year-old daughter Chappell who serve as small group leaders in the baby’s room (Waumba Land) at our church.

Tell me about serving in Waumba Land? “We serve in the crawlers room with the babies each week. We have about 8 babies each week. Our job is to take care of the babies while their parents are in church. Then, we sanitize the toys, change sheets, etc. to get things ready for the next church service. Our group stays with us from the time they crawl until they walk.”

And what’s the commitment? “They ask for a two-year commitment when you volunteer. Every Sunday (unless I have a serious conflict) Chappell and I are up at 6 am so we can be at church by 8:30 am.”

I know I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t serve in this way. What prompted you to do this? “We were sitting in church one Sunday and Andy (Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church) was talking about giving back; encouraging people to be generous with their time.

I whispered to Chappell ‘How would you like to do Waumba Land?’ We’ve been doing this for about 14 months now. We went through an extensive process that included an application, interview, training and an apprenticeship. Chappell has been through all the programs at church since she was little. Now, she’s giving back.”

There’s always a challenge when you serve others. What is that for you? “Some Sundays we have a ball. Some Sundays we want to take a nap because we are up early and it gets busy in the nursery. I think it’s a reminder to me and Chappell. God asks us to do things we may not want to do or have the patience for. He will provide the way and tools we need.”

What’s the big take-away? What’s the big deal about volunteering? “Chappell and I had  conversations about doing something bigger than what we were doing—not just focusing on ourselves. We give parents a break for an hour and I know that helps them. Service really does matter.”

Yes, service does matter. I’ve been on the receiving end of volunteers like Celeste and Chappell since my girls were very little; and even now. Sometimes, that hour in church was the only break we had from caretaking over a tiring weekend. I love that my friend enjoys serving in this way. I love babies, but this couldn’t be my thing.

Time is tight and precious for all of us, but I also believe a little bit of sacrifice will go a long way. Do you have a thing? Is there service in you?

As you shop, eat and enjoy holiday happenings, see if there is a nudging somewhere in your heart. Not just to give physical gifts, but your time too. It will be a gift to others that can be enjoyed all year long.

And it will certainly be one that no one will have to take back to the store to exchange for something better.



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