One chap shared that he was at Army basic at Ft. Oklahoma back in the 1980s. A drill sergeant asked if anyone could drive a truck. A few raised their hands. Those who responded “spent the next two days building a gravel parking lot using a pile of gravel, a garbage can, and two entrenching tools.” Enough said. Lesson complete.
A few weeks ago, I read an item from Jeff Haden, a writer and contributor to Inc.com. He is also the author of Transformed: Dramatically Improve Your Career, Business, Relationships, and Life...One Simple Step at a Time. Jeff blogs as well.
Jeff’s article was titled, “Why You Should Sometimes Work for Free.” It’s more than just the idea of volunteering. He’s advocating pro bono work as well. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-you-should-sometimes-work-free-jeff-haden?forceNoSplash=true
One friend of Jeff’s has a policy against anyone working for free. His reasoning? “I don’t think anyone should give away their profession.”
Okay…that’s one person’s perspective, albeit a wrong one in my view. The reason it’s wrong is that this poor soul must believe that the ability to do his professional work comes of his own will. In other words, no creator or support team (teachers, mentors, etc) were involved in providing or in first giving him the abilities he has and then helping him develop those talents.
I see it differently. My work is in broadcasting. Frequently I have been told I have a “wonderful radio voice.” While grateful for the compliment, I quickly admit that I had very little to do with it. Close to nothing. I was born with the voice I have. There is training and technique involved to develop the use of a voice, but the product itself is not mine for which to take credit.
Whatever your skills and abilities, you would be well advised to realize much of what enables your success is a gift from God. Stroke victims come to realize how vulnerable we are in the human body. I have some blockage in my carotid artery. A very small amount of junk accumulating there could put an end to any number of functions I depend on daily. My very existence—apart from any abilities—is a gift from God.
With that in mind, how can one not offer themselves in some form of service because of a grateful heart? Christmas time is a season when we see volunteers of many stripes take action. Even the Grinch must take off his hat and salute the sweetness of human compassion expressed by volunteering.
And kudos to those who offer pro bono services of any kind throughout the year. Some do legal work. Others provide financial services. Some do creative work of writing. Even speaking activities of various kinds.
Jeff Haden’s article offered several reasons why “working for free” offered the giver personal benefits. His ideas included:
- You get to stretch a little
- You get to be more creative
- You get to flex a few atrophied muscles... and lastly…
- You get to do the right thing
Staying on that last point, it brings up the issue of heart motivation. Doing any kind of charitable activity out of corporate or personal self interest has a measure of defeat involved. Sure, the work may be beneficial. But the heart of the giver is not in it; it’s giving out of selfish ambition. Usually for recognition or some tax write-off.
This brings me to an important personal policy of mine. I try to contribute my time and abilities to the causes to which I’m most drawn. Aggressive fund raisers or charity organizers tend to ask and almost obligate one to service. It’s a gentle form (usually) of guilt motivation. Also, a lousy reason to serve others. So please, don’t volunteer me.
This Christmas season, I hope you can see added beauty in the One who lived a human life totally out of love and sacrifice. His entire life was pro bono. From the earliest recorded days of the “ministry” life of Jesus of Nazareth, He was a giver.
He gave His wisdom through His teaching. He gave His power to heal every kind of disease. Jesus made an offer only He could make: to forgive sins. Not cover them up…forgive them. Blot them out. A free gift. Just believe.
Let’s add one more. He brings us peace, not as the world gives. Jesus said it this way, “I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.” (John 14:27, CEV)
Oh…and as far as volunteering for show, Jesus also said this: “When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1, CEV)
Friend, Jesus's call to His disciples 2000 years ago is the same call He makes to you today: “Follow me.”
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