First, let me congratulate you on your volunteer spirit. While it is a natural human impulse, some have it to greater degrees than others. If volunteerism is your gift, you deserve this recognition. The world does not turn on capitalism. It turns on the strength of our shared humanity. To volunteer is to do something without demand for recompense. When you do your job everyday, you expect a paycheck at the end of the pay period. That is not time and talent you volunteered. That is time and talent you negotiated in trade for a lot of money.
To volunteer is to forgo all that and do your best work without pay. Grant it, nothing we do is completely altruistic. We get plenty out of doing good deeds. But that is beside the point. To volunteer is to accept those more esoteric rewards for service instead of something more direct and spendable. The world could not get along without you. Your contribution is duly noted. It is also duly noted that many volunteers end up in the kind of trouble that requires a bail out by another volunteer. Being selfless is dangerous. You have to meet the minimum requirements for volunteering. Then, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. These are a few of the areas where you have to first, look out for yourself, as difficult as that may be for you:
Take Care of Your Finances
Money is the easiest way to volunteer because it asks almost nothing of our time and talents. The three T’s we have to offer are time, talent, and treasure. Giving treasure is a matter of hitting the donate button on a website. It is almost too easy. And people with generous spirits often fall victim to that fact. They will send a donation to a children’s fund when their own children need new clothes.
Everyone knows that Texans have big hearts. They also can get into big debts. If you want to give, start by shoring up your own finances. You might find that one of those generous Texas loans is just what is needed to take care of some of the more immediate issues and help you get your head back above water. If you have monthly donations that come out automatically, stop donating until you are able to do so again responsibly. The purpose for volunteering your money is to help others in need, not to be put into a position where you are the one who needs the help.
Take Care of Your Health
Have you ever met the doctor who is so stressed by their job that they smoke and drink to the point of their own ill-health? It is a cliché because it is real. Doctors often make the lousiest patients. They are so busy helping everyone else that they don’t take the time to help themselves. Over 3,600 health workers died during the first year of COVID. In many cases, it was a direct result of helping patients when there were not enough PPEs to go around. In the case of the modern plague, getting vaccinated is not just to protect yourself from others. It is also to protect others from you. Taking care of your health in all matters puts you in a much better position to help others.
Spend Time with Your Family
Many counselors, coaches, preachers, and social workers make the mistake of taking care of everyone else’s families at the expense of their own. That is not a good trade. It is also not healthy for the one making the trade. You are probably the wrong person to dispense advice on a healthy work-life balance when you have none of your own. Some people in this situation come to believe that everyone in the world deserves happiness except themselves. If this is how you feel, you should consider talking to a professional to get a few things sorted.
The world needs you to be the brilliant volunteer that you naturally are. But it also needs you to be healthy so that you can volunteer at the highest level possible. Be sure to get your own finances straight. Protect your health. And put your family first. Only then can you be the kind of volunteer that changes the world for the better.