By: Sandy Churchill
The phrase “time, talent and treasure” is not something I grew up with—but I hear it as a mom all the time. In church, scouting, schools, and myriad community circles, it is a great way to capture the types of “pitching in” to make our communities work.
Treasure is the easy one to picture meaning—these entities want, and need—you to donate money from time to time to raise funds for medical research, supplies or programs at school, Eagle Scout projects, and town specialty items such as dog parks and playgrounds that may have been cut from a town or city budget.
Time and Talent are often combined into service of some kind. When my girls were little I remember the looks of shock on their faces when they learned that many of mommy’s “jobs” were not paid—but volunteer. Girl Scout leader, CCD teacher, classroom helper, volunteer reader and craft assistant in myriad classrooms, Bible camp teacher, and long-time columnist for a parenting paper were among the roles filling my Time and Talent offerings.
What I tried to explain then—and continue to maintain today—is that service is a life-time privilege and yes, an obligation of some kind. While circumstances and skill sets and schedules vary home to home, the truth is most of us can give something of our time and effort to help somebody else. My husband and I co-teach a CCD class for eighth graders, where students are gearing up for service hours that count toward Confirmation. The same is true in our town, where high school seniors log community service as a graduation requirement, and my son’s Boy Scout troop emphasizes the need for service as a steady prerequisite through the ranks. But what I hope lingers with them is the continual role of service not as a check list item but a commitment daily or weekly or monthly throughout life!
Imagine what kind of world we would be living in if each of us—to the best of his or her ability—makes it a regular practice to joyfully find ways to help others as part of our journey as a fellow traveler on this planet…
There is a “selfish” twist of sorts. First, helping others nearly always helps bring joy to a given day, render a good night’s sleep even better, and sometimes result in a grateful smile that can melt even the Grinch’s two-sizes-too-small heart. But there is a special way to match service with the Talent part of the Time/Talent/Treasure trio. I tell my Sunday School kids—if you can’t stand shoveling snow, then perhaps that is not the service you sign up for when the opportunity arises. If you have no patience with children, then helping out at the church preschool class is not a good idea. The key is finding your gifts. Is your talent creative/artistic? A good listener? Extra kind to the elderly? Handy with tools or yard work? Or just available with time to drive someone to an appointment, sit with a lonely neighbor, or bring a friend to church?
My son does regular volunteering as an altar server, but he also spends time with friends and family who enjoy his company. He cheers up friends of his grandparents who enjoy having a teen who can chat about books to politics, philosophy to film—and myriad other topics that run the gamut. Helping others is truly contagious—and the joy is certainly a two-way street.