“Many are called, but few get up.” (Oliver Herford) That little saying that I first saw on the Jack’s Winning Words blog begs for a follow-on addition – and fewer yet show up.
I am involved with a few small volunteer groups at my church, with the Milford Historical Society and the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each of these groups depends greatly on the help of volunteers to run event and get things done. They all use some sort of call to action and have things like sign-up sheets and volunteer forms. They put out widespread calls for volunteers in emails, newsletters or from the pulpit. Each also suffers from the malaise indicated by our little quote of the day – many are called but few get up (or sign up). Even worse is the fact that of those who sign up only a portion actually show up to do the work that needs to be done.
It’s relatively easy to sign up for something and then blow it off later. Those people get the “PR benefit” of having your name out there on the list as a volunteer, but then don’t do the work. That’s a little disgusting to those who do show up time after time, which is what normally happens in these little organizations – the same core group ends up doing all of the work for the group. Almost as disgusting are those who show up but consider the task at hand to be socializing rather than actually working – you know the type who take a selfie to post on their Facebook page but never really lift a finger to help.
What are even more disgusting sometimes are the critical comments that you hear later from people who didn’t volunteer or who volunteered but didn’t show up. These are people who stand back and go “tut, tut; I could have done better than that.” Well, why didn’t you? One just wants to say something to them like “put up or shut up”; but, of course, one doesn’t because that would not be polite. Some of those folks are people who were active in the group for a while and now just rest on the laurels of their bygone volunteer work. Their comments usually start with “Well, when we did that, we…”
I wrote here recently about reacting to the call for help from others and that is an example of the same thing. Many people may hear those calls, but few get up to help. Fewer yet actually show up to help. Perhaps that s because we have made it easier and socially acceptable to just give money, rather than dirty our hands with the work that needs to be done. It is so much easier to just write a check than to get up and show up at the homeless shelter to serve a meal to someone in need. It is safer to drop some money into a collection pot than to visit the inner city to help a person sleeping in a doorway. I must admit that I take that way out (or perhaps that way to feel OK about myself) rather than get up and show up where the work needs to be done.
One doesn’t have to sign up for a huge project to save the world. There are many small local organizations in every community doing wonderful things to help and they need your help. Find the local groups like Zonta or the Red Cross or The Wounded Warrior group or your church and find out what they need help with right now. Fortunately there is always something that needs doing and they are always looking for volunteers. Then get up, sign up, and show up.
You may not get an award for your service (that seldom happens) or even much of a thank you from the people that you are helping; but, at the end of the day there’s a spot in your soul that will feel a little warmer and a sense of satisfaction that when you were called you got up and you showed up. If you aren’t going to do that, at least have the good sense to shut up.
Have a great rest of the week.