How Volunteering Helps Your Mental Health

Have you ever been hesitant about asking someone to volunteer because you felt like you might be asking too much from them?  I have.

As I pondered asking the person, I thought, "They are probably too busy to volunteer.  They are probably too stressed out to volunteer.  They won't be willing to commit to this."

The reason I had this thought pattern was because I was only looking through the lens of what I needed from them.  I needed them to teach a class.  I needed them to rock babies in the nursery.  I needed them to greet people at the door.  I needed them to lead worship.  I needed them to assemble crafts for preschoolers.  I needed them to go pick up supplies at the store.

When I thought like this, it caused me to sometimes not make the ask.  I walked away from potential volunteers because of not wanting to impose on the person.

But one day I had a breakthrough.  I realized that asking people to volunteer shouldn't primarily be about what I need from them.  Rather it should be about what I want for them.  When I grasped that volunteering is one of the best things a person can do, it removed the hesitancy to make the ask.

When I ask someone to volunteer I am giving them the opportunity to grow in their faith.  I am giving them the opportunity to be more like Jesus, who came to serve and give.  I am giving them the opportunity to experience the joy of being used by God to make an impact.

I am also giving people the opportunity to have better mental health through volunteering.  Studies show that volunteering has mental benefits.  It not only lowers a person's blood pressure, but reduces feelings of depression as well.  Helping others creates a natural high that our brains are wired for.

“Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness”
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

The research that shows volunteering helps your mental health is just re-confirming what God's Word has already stated.  Look at these verses.

“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” Proverbs 11:25

"And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard.  You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"  Acts 20:35

"Sell your possessions, and give to the needy.  Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys."  Luke 12:33

"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."  
2 Corinthians 9:11

Is there someone in your church who has suffered loss and is being consumed by it?  Help them by asking them to volunteer.

Is there someone in your church that has lost the joy of their salvation?  Help them by inviting them to serve.

Is there someone in your church who seems to have no reason to worship in the service?  Help them by inviting them to serve.

Is there someone in your church who is sad because they have no friends?  Help them by inviting them to serve.

Is there someone in your church whose natural expression seems to always be a frown?  Help them by inviting them to serve.

Is there someone in your church who needs a fresh touch from God?  Help them by inviting them to serve. 
When we realize the benefits people get from serving, we will not hesitate to ask them to serve. 
True happiness doesn't come from possessions.  True happiness doesn't come from more money.  True happiness doesn't come from another vacation.  And for sure, it doesn't come from just sitting on a church pew.  It comes form serving others.

Invite people to experience it through serving in your ministry.

p.s. You can get more insight into building your volunteer team in my book "The Formula for Building Great Volunteer Teams.  It's available at this link.