Do what you can, even if you just hold a flashlight

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At the Inspirational Rally Sunday night at Second Baptist Church, Warner Robins, evangelist Rick Coram told the crowd about the time he fixed a car.

Except, he didn’t technically fix the car. A couple of years ago after preaching at a Tennessee church, Coram and the pastor learned a woman was having trouble getting her car started. Coram, admittedly not knowing how he could help, nevertheless opened the hood with the preacher. They looked at different parts of the engine, jiggled a belt or two with their hands, and looked a little more.

That was the extent of their expertise, Coram said. Luckily for the woman, the preacher’s brothers were mechanics and happened to attend the meeting that evening. Although they had already gone home, the mechanics volunteered to come back and take a look at the car.

Coram volunteered to hang around to see what they would do. Good thing, because one asked him to hold a flashlight, shining the light on where they worked. In a few moments the car was fixed and one of the mechanics told Coram they couldn’t have done it without him.

Somebody had to hold the flashlight.

Later that night at his hotel, Coram got a call from his wife. “How did the service go?” she asked.

“Honey, I fixed a car!” he exclaimed.

Of course, Coram didn’t actually do the things under the hood to get the car running. The point, he told the crowd, was that if he hadn’t held the light it couldn’t have gotten fixed. Like one of the mechanics said, they couldn’t have done it without him.

Big steps don’t happen without the little steps, the evangelist explained. Ministry doesn’t happen without the people who never step on a stage. Or as Coram put it …

“Great churches are built on folks who do the little stuff.”

The heroes in your church are the people who sit in rocking chairs and rock babies who aren’t theirs, he noted. They sit on the floor and teach toddlers their first gospel song. They fold up tables and cook food and take out the trash after church dinners.

“They’re the people who work behind the scenes and don’t care who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory!” he proclaimed.

The importance of volunteering in the church, of course, is to help in the overall ministry of that congregation. Without people stepping up for those seemingly small roles, someone might not be exposed to the gospel.

But, as leadership expert Brian Dodd wrote for LifeWay, benefits to being a volunteer flow both ways. Dodd said being a volunteer at his church helped him gain broader perspective, made him more generous and a better thinker, and helped him learn to make better decisions. Overall, it made him a better Christian and closer to Christ because it brought him a slew of new experiences.

A study released earlier this year from Ohio State University backs up those observations. Comparing the obituaries of atheists and religious people, the study found religious people lived, on average, around four years longer. One reason? Religious peopled tended to volunteer more.

Of course, that’s not why we volunteer. Contrary to one phrase you may have heard, our best lives aren’t now. But, now is the time to live out the message that brings eternal life. We do that by finding the pockets of service God has put in front of us.

The Georgia Baptist Convention annual gathering serves as a business meeting. However, within those reports and presentations attendees will also find opportunities and ideas to serve. Over the next couple of days, The Index will be covering various speakers and other aspects of the meeting, not to mention live-Tweeting many of the sessions. To see what that looks like go to our Twitter feed to see our posts from last night’s Inspiration Rally.  

Being a volunteer often doesn’t mean you get a lot of credit right away. However, it’s not surprising for someone to come up to you months or even years down the road and thank you for what you did. That’s been my experience, anyway.

The small ways you volunteer make a big difference. And as Coram explained, even shining a little light can help someone get home.

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