What’s in it for me?

By Carmen F. Aguinaco

Do you remember the story of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help a poor man who had been beaten and robbed? He lay wounded as people passed him by; they had their own concerns. But a Samaritan was passing by, a man not even welcomed in that particular region, and not only did he take the injured man to be treated, he paid for the care and offered to cover any additional expenses. What did he gain from it? Evidently, the Samaritan didn’t receive any material things and he probably wasn’t looking for gratitude, since he departed without waiting for the man to recuperate enough to thank him. The Samaritan is a great example of volunteerism. Why did he do it? Simply, because he wanted to. He had the will.

Everyone would agree that volunteering is a good thing.  But why?  Do they all  agree with a well known saying that goes, “one who does not live to serve, has a life not worth living?”  But what’s in it for me?

Although it is a free choice, volunteering responds to an invitation, a vocation to follow the will of God. It is a service in response to faith. Indeed a life without serving another is not a worthwhile life…

One of the essential principles to discern what way God may be calling you to serve is to examine the talents, aptitudes and skills you have. It’s not so much what you like, but what you can contribute. People who know you, prayer, and a youth group can help you see this. We might discover talents we didn’t know we had.

Willingness is not enough: It is important to know well the group you will work with or the people to be served. You cannot enter a group from a position of superiority, imposing on them what you consider must be done.  In his encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI says that progress and development can only be attained in freedom. In other words, the people you work with are not simply recipients of an action: they are in truly protagonists, and the volunteer is a collaborator, not a dictator.

What’s in it for me? Do you think joy is enough reward?  The joy proposed by Jesus is one that gives generously, knowing that God gives “100th fold and afterwards eternal life.”  A Christian is, by nature, a person who lives for others.

The Samaritan was not a Christian, but he had discovered the value of not living for himself, expecting nothing more than to please God by generously giving to others.

Have you ever had the opportunity to volunteer? Have you calculated the rewards you could receive?  


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