Thursday, October 6, 2011

Volunteers Anonymous

This post is going back to the journal. Today we are traveling back in time to April 17, 2003...

Thank You for Your faithfulness. I love You Lord and I love my husband. Thank You for the assurance that me and Patrick were meant to be together. Thank You Father for humbling me and opening my eyes to the fact that I was neglecting my family in Your name. In trying to grow closer to You and being a light to the world, I was starting to keep my family, especially Patrick, in the dark. And my family is where Your light in me should shine the brightest. Thank You Father for Your discipline. I love You Lord.
In Jesus Name,

Oh how I wish I could say that on April 17th, 2003 I conquered this struggle, but I can't. It is a constant battle for me. Just this week we attended our Shelby's basketball team meeting and the coach asked for volunteers to help assistants coach and keep book, automatically my hand is compelled to go up and I look at my husband and I know that even though I was an all-county player, even though I love coaching, even though I hate sitting on the sidelines for anything, even though I want to make the memories with my girls as "coach" I physically just cannot do this and most importantly God did not call me to do it.

As soon as we got in the truck to leave my girls were going but "Momma why didn't you coach?" And my husband looks at me and says something like, "I saw you, I saw that hand trying to go up at the word "volunteer", somebody says something about volunteering and automatically you think you have to be the one to do it." 

It's the truth. I am a hands on person. I never liked sitting the bench. I never want to just sit on the sidelines. I want to get my hands dirty. I want to be involved. I jump in either headfirst or with both feet, rarely do I cautiously test the waters with a little toe or contemplate the pros and cons. All I can see around me are the things that need done and the things I could help with and sometimes I forget to check with God and my husband first before I say "YES!"     

I used to honestly believe that if an opportunity presented itself it was because God had sent it and I was just to accept it and rejoice. I just wanted to serve Him and be used by Him to do anything! I never wanted to say no to God ever again and I did not ever want to live for myself again, only Him, to do His will, not mine.

I have come to realize that I am addicted to the validation that comes from serving. As a stay-at-home mom and housewife I do not receive awards or promotions. Rarely does anyone walk by and peek in and say,

"Mrs Vaughn, you did a wonderful job folding that laundry and getting that bathroom scrubbed to perfection. I think we will give you a raise"
"Mrs Vaughn, you handled yourself so well today as you managed to balance that budget and meet all our monthly commitments and still manage to pull in a profit to stick in the savings for future investments, how about a promotion and a raise!" 
"Mrs Vaughn I understand that you've been on call 24/7 for the last 7 days as you nursed this child through this illness I think it's time for some paid vacation"

And I suppose my worst frustration is the fact that the job is never really accomplished. The dishes will never all be done, the laundry will never all be clean, the bills will never all be paid... the sense of accomplishment comes in spurts and never lasts long because it's not like you ever get to close the book on a task and stamp it with done. You are continuously cleaning up the same messes. And it seems no one appreciates the mess you clean up because within an hour all your hard-work is destroyed as though you never even did it.

But the truth is, I wouldn't change it for the world. Not the frustrations, not the lack of awards and recognition, not the lack of a paycheck, because I do what I do because I love my God and I love my family. One mother's day card, one hug, one thank you, one I love... makes it all worth it.

So as for the volunteering. I am going to serve. I have been called to serve. I am a missionary for Christ. I love ministry. I love helping others. I am called to ministry just as every believer is called to ministry. But I have learned that I cannot be all things to all people all the time. I cannot be a part of everything, no matter how much my heart longs to just get involved. It took me a while to understand the difference between serving God and doing church. Church is not something I do, it is who I am. If my marriage and children are missing the best of me under the guise of serving God, then something is off. I am overextended and am doing something that God did not call me to do.

Please know that I am far from victorious in this area of my life. I can even justify myself in my addiction by blaming my husband for not being understanding or too demanding or blaming my children for not respecting "my time", yet this is what an addict does isn't it?

Signs of volunteer addiction (adapted from signs of drug addiction)

1. Usage Increase - Over time, it is common for individuals addicted to volunteering to grow tolerant to the effects of normal volunteering. If someone you know seems to be increasing his/her volunteer time past the normal healthy allotted time within a 24 hr period, this is an indication that the are suffering from volunteer addiction
2. Change in Personality - Changes in a person's normal behavior can be a sign of dependency. Shifts in energy, mood, and concentration may occur as every day responsibilities become secondary to the need for the validation that comes with volunteering.
3. Social Withdrawal - A person experiencing a dependency problem may withdraw from family, friends and choose the volunteer opportunity over quality time with spouse and children.
4. Ongoing Use - Continued usage after a volunteer opportunity has been accomplished will result in the person needing extensions on his/her time of service. The person might talk of how they are "still feeling needed" and need just a little longer on the task in order to get it done right. He or she might also complain frequently about those who refused to encourage and support them in their volunteering for one reason or another.
5. Time Spent on Volunteering - A dependant person will spend large amounts of time driving great distances and visiting multiple places just to volunteer. Watch for signs that he or she seems preoccupied with a quest for volunteer opportunities, demonstrating that the desire to volunteer has become their top priority.
6. Change in Daily Habits and Appearance - Personal hygiene may diminish as a result of a volunteer addiction. Sleeping and eating habits change, and a person may have a constant twitches and red, glazed eyes.
7. Neglects Responsibilities - A volunteer addict may neglect household chores and bills.
8. Increased Sensitivity - Normal sights, sounds and emotions might become overly stimulating to the person, they will become easily irritated and frustrated.
9. Blackouts and Forgetfulness - Another clear indication of volunteer addiction is when the person regularly forgets events that have taken place and appears to be suffering blackouts.
10. Defensiveness - When attempting to hide a volunteer addiction, abusers can become very defensive if they feel their secret is being discovered. They might even react to simple requests or questions by lashing out.


Hello, my name is Nicole. I am a Christian, a housewife, and a homeschool mom, and I am a volunteer addict. So below I have taken the 12 step program and adapted it for my addiction. May it be of help to fellow volunteer addicts.

1. We admitted we were powerless over volunteering—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and sought to discover our own Spirit willed and God desired spiritual gift and limit our area of ministry to the one in which the Lord called and equipped us.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs committed when we were stressed due to overextending ourselves.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character and all things in our lives we said yes to when He said no.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings and grow us in His grace and the knowledge of His will for our lives.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong in taking on a volunteer opportunity, promptly admit it, and gracefully decline.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other volunteers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


  1. This is cute. I myself definitely do not suffer from this but enjoyed the read!