Thanks for volunteers who serve without strings
When I was training to be a nursing supervisor, the woman orienting me
to the job taught me much, but there was one bit of advice to which I
She told me that when I got a call for an emergency or a code blue --
a cardiac arrest -- I should show up, assess the situation and then
tell them what I was willing to do so that they could rearrange their
Yes, I was their superior. Yes, I could announce what I was going to
do in the code blue, but each nursing unit had an organizational plan
and usually they worked together well. So I learned very quickly that
the best thing to do was to show up and assess the situation and if
they were functioning well I would do whatever they asked or needed me
As Christians and volunteers, we often see ourselves as my old
colleague did. We show up and announce what we are willing to do in a
situation that calls for our help. And if we are asked to volunteer
we have a preconceived idea of what we are willing to do. But needs
change and roles change. And the Lord's work continues to be done,
and done more effectively if we are willing to look for the need and
plug ourselves in rather than showing up already knowing what we need
to do to meet our own sense of self.
I was really impressed this year when the group from whom we usually
get our names for our Thanksgiving baskets decided that rather than
handing our names of people in need to churches and other
organizations, they would handle the baskets themselves. I didn't
hear any of the women in our church complaining about their job being
usurped or that we had never done it that way. They saw the logic and
efficiency and began immediately raising money for the effort.
When a need that we have met in the past gets taken over we say thanks
be to God and we begin to look around for where the next need is and
figure out how to help.
Today I give thanks for the people of our church who continue every
day to look out and say "use me," who look out at the world and see a
need and simply fill it.
We give you thanks that we get to be a part of your work in this
world. We give you thanks for all those willing hands with whom we
2005, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at
The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St.
Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI. A lifelong Lutheran, she
came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric
intensive care. She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at
Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 ½ years in Upstate New York before
becoming a New Englander. She is still trying to understand the
accent. While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship
Team. That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more,
what makes for generosity.
has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of
life she learned from them.