Gideon and the Need for Volunteers

August 7, 2015 — Leave a comment

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There is one thing that every ministry has in common—volunteers. And most of us share the struggle to find more!

Our children’s ministry team has been recruiting year round and really ramped it up between May and August. We personally invited, had multiple church-wide campaigns, and shared a vision for why current volunteers should re-up in the ministry. God has really blessed us by sending 491 people to volunteer on our team! Even as I type that sentence, I’m overwhelmed by what God has done.

So, why do I feel worried, frustrated, and defeated by the handful of volunteers I still need?

Do you ever feel that way? Do you find yourself focusing on the need, the problem, or the failure? It’s easy to fall into the trap of letting those things keep our attention and steal our joy.

I was wrestling with this when God taught me a lesson through Gideon. As I tucked my daughter in bed and opened our devotional book to the day’s devotion (story of Gideon), what God was doing for the Israelites hit me like a ton of bricks.

Judges 7 tells us that as Gideon went up against the Midianites, he went with 32,000 soldiers. Who knows if that was enough, but it surely gave the Israelites a fighting chance.

But then God told Gideon to shrink the army.

God knew that a victory would lead people to boast in their own ability and their own strength. So Gideon shrunk the army. First from 32,000 to 10,000, and then the army went down to just 300 men. Gideon went up against the Midianites with less than 1% of his army! God decreased the size of the Israelite army so that He could increase their dependence on Him. God wanted them to see God’s power and boast in Him alone.

As I thought about what God did, I realized that I was looking at volunteers the wrong way. Could it be that God was decreasing our “army” so that He could increase our dependence on Him?

I quickly wrote down this prayer and I’ve been praying it since:

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.

If you have a volunteer need or some other daunting task ahead of you, are you delighting in it? I know that sounds like the craziest question ever, but listen to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [thorn in the flesh] away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In the end, God provided the victory for Gideon and the Israelites in such a way that only He could do. I’m not sure how or even if God is going to provide volunteers for our ministry, but I will continue to pray this prayer and know that He is in control.

Lord, increase my dependence on you. Make Your strength visible through my weakness. Help me to boast in nothing but You and what You have done.

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