Service Comes from the Heart—Not a Building.
Tuesday morning I got a call. There had been a fire in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska overnight. The public school system administration building had burned to the ground; and my brother-in-law was the one who found and reported the fire.You see, he is the technology director for the schools system, and my sister has been a teacher for more than 20 years! As a result I’ve been watching video news stories and reading the Lincoln paper online to keep up.
I share this seemingly random event with you to set the stage for a compelling comment I read in one of the articles.Chris Webster, an LPS employee who works with homeless and low-income students, predicted the fire wouldn’t slow down school workers. “It's only a building,” he said. “Our job is working with the kids and we will find a way to work with them.”*
I read his quote a couple of times and thought, this guy gets it! He gets what we often forget; that what we do as volunteer leaders is not ultimately about the trappings of our positions. It’s not about the environment we work in, the support or lack of support we receive; it’s not even about the next great event we are planning. It’s always about the people we serve. Always.
The flip side of Chris’ statement addresses our tendency to complain about what we do have or compare our facilities to someone else’s. Think for a moment about what you would do if you lost your church building or community center. Would the people you serve still need you? Would you find a way to meet their needs? Certainly you wouldn’t sit at home saying, “There is nothing we can do without our building.”
Consider Ground Zero on 9/11. With no shelter of any kind, no organized office or classrooms, volunteers were mobilized in churches, houses, and from the middle of that huge rubble pile.
Or more recently, consider Joplin, Missouri. The massive tornado left their main community buildings in shambles; the hospital, schools, churches, even police and fire stations. And we are seeing a tremendous outpouring of support and volunteer-power without coordination from these important organizations.
Take a moment and consider how you would serve people if you didn’t have a facility…or any supplies…or an adequate budget. (Some of you may not even have to imagine!) Now think about doing what you do without people. That’s impossible, isn’t it? Service is never about a building. It’s always about people.
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*Taken from the Omaha World Herald, Leslie Reed, reporter.
Sue Brage worked in nonprofit marketing and communications for more than nine years before joining Group Publishing as Online Publisher and Editor for Church Volunteer Daily.com. Her experience as a writer, editor, and volunteer coordinator (not to mention wife and mother) gives her a unique perspective and ability to encourage and help leaders. She has a big heart for people and great passion for helping others serve their churches and communities better. Follow Sue on Twitter and @SueB rage and @CVCDaily