Serving Without Sacrifice?

So here is what I'm thinking. . . . Many times when opportunities to serve/volunteer are presented I find myself not stepping up to the plate because of very legitimate reasons. I'm a busy person doing a lot of good things with a very finite amount of time, right?!

I’m not at all implying that I (or anyone else) should feel guilty. I don't. I haven't. But today I started thinking about the people who jumped into the ocean in Florida this weekend to save the two little boys caught in a riptide, to their own peril, and the many others who saw what was happening and formed a human chain to get them out. Every one of those people sacrificed what they were doing and quite a few of them risked their own lives in doing so.

I have no problem jumping in to rescue someone. That's pretty much in my DNA. It's how I'm wired. It's why I was a cop. But what about less heroic needs? What about the call for volunteers at church? What about the email that just went out for a meal train? Am I too busy to be bothered? How many others volunteer to serve only when it is convenient for them? And how much better would the world be if we all were willing to put a little more skin in the game?

Do I truly value those things I think I value if I only serve at my convenience? Have I made assumptions that it is easier for the people I see volunteering? I think for some probably yes. For others, I don’t think so.

I just can't help but believe that our world is a little less than it could be if we all actually sacrificed some of the time and money we spend on ourselves, towards our own interests. There are certainly many opportunities to help people that are easy for me. I can shove a few dollars here and there quite easily. I can easily help others out of my overflow. But is that serving? Maybe that’s just generosity. It helps, but does it qualify as serving? 

Much of the time when we give and it looks like sacrifice, there is a pretty good payback involved. Some human behaviorists purport that we only choose to do things that give us a payback of some kind—even if it’s just intrinsic (i.e., we feel better about ourselves or like how we might be perceived by others). Can I sacrifice my time, my attention, and do something just because it needs to be done?

I believe love demands sacrifice. I'm really looking at the level of sacrifice I’m willing to give in every area of my life. Not to the point of self-harm or dereliction of responsibilities or even messed up priorities. Admittedly, there are times in life when the things you are doing need to be the things you are doing—and nothing more. But when I have the ability, am I willing to cut a chunk out of my pre-set plans, my schedule, my life to help meet a legitimate need? Do I have more ability to help than I think I do? Have I really, maybe, just not been willing to sacrifice? Am I willing to sacrifice for something/someone I care about—at a true cost to me? And if what I’m giving today is easy, am I willing to lean into it a little more, sacrifice a little more, to contribute, to make the world a better place?

This is what I’m pondering today.