Question: What would you do for the rest of your life for free? That is to say, I’m looking for something that you enjoy doing that much. As I pondered over this while on a long run the other day, thoughts began pouring into my head. I thought about my parents and my in-laws who all spend countless hours on various things ranging from ministry, to running a non-profit, to writing, to driving teenagers across the country for a 2-week long summer camp. I thought about my wife volunteering us to spend time in the upcoming weeks with a group of kids from China that a nearby adoption agency is bringing in hopes that they will be adopted, regardless of the fact that, since our agency is in another state, the possibility of us getting one doesn’t exist. I even thought about the mentor in my life who got me involved in politics and grassroots campaigning – a little known portion of my life, but incredibly impactful, nonetheless.
There were countless examples that I could’ve pulled and used for this post. But one particular week came to mind. It was, hands down, one of the hardest weeks of my life and one of the most rewarding at the same time. My wife and I had been elected to direct Vacation Bible School (VBS) at our church at the time. She would play the part of the actual director and I would be the VBS pastor. Once titles were set, we rigorously went to work, having no idea of the changes to come in our lives that very same week.
See, while we were attending this church, I was finishing up school. The idea was always to get a job after school in some sort of sales/marketing role as that was the field of study I had chosen. As it turned out, through a series of circumstances, I ended up in the manufacturing industry as a buyer for a large paper company. The job was located in another state about 1.5 hours away from where we were living at the time and 2 hours away from our church. The scheduled start date? The Monday after VBS.
Trust me when I say that it was harder than it sounds. We spent the weeks leading up preparing for the move and VBS simultaneously. We had teacher positions to fill, a church to decorate, an apartment to pack up, and lots of drives back and forth. Oh, and a house to find.
The week of VBS was insane. We spent the mornings packing and taking loads up from our apartment to our new place, working with the landlord to get utilities and things like internet hooked up, and then leaving just in time to shower (although, sometimes we didn’t make it back in time for that) and drive to church to VBS in the evenings. Here are a few highlights:
– I have an awesome wife. She has this uncanny ability to keep millions of things straight in her head all at the same time. She was poised, well organized, and did a bang up job with VBS that week.
– I also have a pretty great best friend and family. They drove up every night after conducting their own VBS an hour away and helped us with ours. They were invaluable resources to have and kept us from going completely crazy. I think the church members liked them alright too.
– Speaking of the church members, ours were/are incredible. They stepped in where help was needed whether it was their job or not. They filled the positions we needed, decorated the church, and were key in making VBS a success. To any of you who are reading this: Thank you.
– Our pastor drove up to our house with a rented truck to help us take our furniture to our new house with one of the youth from the church. It was a true blessing to have them help us as that was definitely our biggest load and one of the more stressful times of the move.
– We spent the week of VBS raising money for an organization for Romania Reborn. You should stop reading right now and visit them at http://romania-reborn.org. The organization spends its resources helping orphans in Romania get adopted. The country is closed to outside adoptions and because of racism issues there, finding adoptive parents can be very difficult. It was life changing to get to share about the organization and show pictures of the orphans to the kids who attended our VBS and their parents on the last night. VBS and Romania Reborn gave me a brand new look at what “pure and undefiled religion” looks like when it is lived out.
What’s the point of all of this? All money received was donated to Romania Reborn. We spent that entire week (and the weeks leading up to it) without getting paid at all. Understand, I’m not complaining at all. The point is, I’d do it again! I love getting to teach the Bible to kids, I love getting to work with my wife, I loved getting to spend time teaching and working with the beautiful people of that church. The experience was an awesome way to end our time at the church. It brought us closer as a couple and stretched our limits beyond what we would have otherwise thought them to be. It was more than worth the time and energy put into it. What a blessing. Something like that is what I would be willing to do for the rest of my life for free. I guarantee you that I get out of those things way more than I put in.
Wow Andrew! That whole experience sounds like my whole life experience. I feel as though I’ve been working for free at everything I did except having a regular 9-5 job. Of which, I’ve not been anyone’s employee since 2002/03. I graduated from massage school in 2003. I’m a photographer/writer/life coach, etc, etc. Everything I’ve done within these areas have never been lucrative. In the 80’s & 90’s I volunteered at my church and never got paid. It’s all been very worth it.
Thanks for reading, Kimberly! Sometimes the most fulfillment comes with the least amount of dollars, for sure. Awesome stuff!