The third “Life’s Lessons” I have learned on the mission field is that every person is a volunteer.
When we arrived to Argentina we started the church and between my wife and I, we divided the church – everyone from 12 and under was her category and everyone from 13 and above was in my category. I did the singing, anouncements, offering, preaching, praying, etc while my wife did the nursery, kids club, SS classes, etc. It was quite funny now that I look back. Within a short amount of time, the Lord began to send us young men and women who are today great leaders in the church. One by one, people began to volunteer to help clean, help in a class, help in the nursery, be a greeter, pray in church, be an usher, etc. I knew that the teachers and leaders were to be the examples and therefore little by little began to put rules. Time passed and the Lord had given us a good group of teachers and workers, so I thought it was time for “the list”. I sat down and wrote a list of requirements and jobs that these teachers and workers had to do in the church – after all I thought, isn’t it a privilege to be in the Lord’s work. I presented my list to a group of teachers with requirements that I now see were not so necessary. Later I had a few looks and visits to my office with statements such as, “I don’t think I can complete all these requirements”. I was shattered, all of a sudden these hard workers that the Lord had placed in the church, were possibly not going to continue – what would I do.
I went home after our episode of me trying to be “leadership on steroids” and did some thinking. What really was the problem. Almost every teacher brought people, was faithful, dressed and acted right, … but I was pushing for more. Maybe they weren’t the problem, maybe it was me.
I began to realize a great “Life’s Lesson” – no one works because they have to work, everyone is a volunteer. If one’s heart is not in it, he will not do it. I was taught by my spiritual father that real leaders go against the flow, they are not “yes men”. So it is with our people here and anywhere else – no one works just to work, they do it because they love God, they do it because they are volunteers.
Maybe the idea of leadership has ruined our thinking, or maybe our leadership needs to be more like the leadership that Christ manifested. He did not force anyone to believe in Him, follow Him, etc. Sure it was hard and they had to take up their cross, but if they didn’t want to do it, they could leave. And as His instruments here on the earth, I can not make anyone do anything – they only do it because they want to, because they are volunteers.
God has given us a great group of people here in Argentina and we are thankful. But I have learned one “Life’s Lesson” that I hope I will never forget – they are volunteers. The only owner is the Lord, not me nor the church, nor … and when I love these volunteers and seek after their good, God will keep them coming.