The advantage of short-term volunteer projects is that volunteers can usually keep up a “sprint” pace. Because of the freedom that short-term volunteers have from distractions of overseas living (these include; tending to their children’s education, the family’s visa status, maintaining home and vehicles, attending mission support meetings, or even personal rest) volunteers can put in long hours each day and accomplish much in a short amount of time. I’ve learned that people who come on short-term trips do not sacrifice all that time and money to have a relaxed pace. The best volunteers come to work!
However, this high capacity is only realized when volunteers come with a mindset of service. If volunteers are distracted with shopping, sightseeing, or team conflict, all the advantages disappear. Also, some may need to drop the “But I’m an introvert!” excuse. While you’re on the trip, you really need step out of your comfort range and be an extrovert!
A key passage to consider is 1 Peter 4:10, “Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”
Wonder what to do on the field as a volunteer? I’ll make it simple. Two things:
- Service: What practical ways can I serve my national friends, my hosts, or my team right now?
- Words: What can I say to speak words of truth or encouragement right now?
How do you create this mindset before you go? Take a half day several times and practice doing nothing else but these two activities. See how much you can get accomplished in these areas in just a few short hours when you apply a little focus.
Do you have other ideas to prepare a short-term volunteer for a season of service?
Other posts in this series: