It was a little more than a year ago when my first volunteer blog was posted on CAP's website, summarizing the winding road of my journey in faith and service. Since then, I've completed my year of service in CAP's Grateful Bread Food Pantry and begun a second term of service. This year, however, I'm not spending the bulk of my time stocking shelves and assisting program participants in the food pantry. This year, I'm recruiting volunteers to serve in CAP's Volunteer Program.
The recruitment role requires a lot of interactions with people through phone calls, e-mails, social media communications, and face-to-face conversations. This may seem an odd occupational choice for an introvert such as myself, but I am glad to be able to play a part in the journeys of others as they discern the possibility of one-year or short-term service with CAP.
This kind of outreach is interesting, but also unpredictable. In light of this, one of the things I must remind myself of as I go about my role is the importance of making space within my heart for a discernment process that is ultimately out of my control. As other recruiters at CAP and other faith-based service organizations have taught me, it is essential that we communicate with authenticity and respect for the horizon of possible futures we must share with a prospective applicant's multiple interests. Besides, often people can tell if they are being addressed as a mere means to the end of filling a sign-up sheet.
Of course, I have no problem approaching prospective volunteers with the honest intent of persuading them to commit to (and follow through with) a year of service with CAP. However, this aim should never distract me from the fact that God has God's own plan for each prospective volunteer that I speak with; if God's plan for them involves service with CAP, then we have reason to rejoice, but if God's plan for them involves something else, then we also have reason to rejoice, as long as our conversation brings them closer to clarity in their process of discernment.
There are plenty of stories in the Bible about the temptation to exchange authentic interaction in search of God's will for manipulation in the service of some human institution or another. In the Gospels, for example, the scribes and teachers of the law sometimes speak to Jesus with the ulterior motive of undermining his authority and thereby maintaining their relatively privileged position in the social order. However, Jesus has a way of exposing our lack of sincerity when we have our priorities so mixed up.
As a volunteer recruiter this year, I hope to grow interpersonal and organizational skills that will serve me in my life beyond CAP. I also hope to learn better how to accept the uncertainty inherent in the position, trusting that "In all things God works for the good of those that love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28 NIV). Ultimately, I believe that such a trust will allow me to live better in accordance with Paul's letter to the church in Philippi:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." -Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
Benny Mattis is a One-Year volunteer serving in CAP's Volunteer Program in Rockcastle County. If you want to learn more about serving with CAP, email firstname.lastname@example.org.