Photo credit: Anna Earl on Unsplash
Taking time to focus on someone else or a cause bigger than us is a great way to move toward humility. It causes us to take the focus off ourselves and consider others. An added benefit of volunteering is friendship.
There are two avenues I’ve found volunteering to be beneficial to friendship. The first is to deepen friendships. When I’ve volunteered with a friend or friends we get to know each other better. Spending time working with others helps build stronger bonds. From yardwork or trail building to making quilts, we build deeper friendships as we work together. The second way volunteering has helped my friendships is finding new friends. A group of volunteers has (hopefully) self-selected toward something they are interested in and passionate about. A shared interest is a great starting point for a friendship.
Because of the potential to find quality friends, volunteering is a recommendation that I would give my younger self. The advice I would give myself would be to test a few volunteer opportunities out. Commit to something for a logical season. A semester or a summer to get a feel for the opportunity and whether I would want to commit to it longer term. And don’t feel bad walking away from something if it’s not the right fit. Find something and stick with it. It also doesn’t have to be in perpetuity. It is perfectly acceptable to take a break from volunteering depending on your schedule and to prevent burnout. But I would also argue that regular volunteering is good for us.
We like to believe that when we volunteer, we’re doing a lot of good for other people. And that is true. But volunteering has a greater impact on our hearts than the assistance we provide others. Regularly committing time to something that we’re interested in and care about puts us into a better place spiritually by reorienting our focus to be less on ourselves. We become more grateful for our blessings when we consider others ahead of ourselves. And it’s a great opportunity to find like-minded people who could grow into friends.