Today’s guest post is from Tess Pajaron.
Volunteering, when done for the right reasons, is one of the best ways you could ever spend your time, and Mother Teresa, possibly the greatest volunteer of all time, said it best when she said:
“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
Volunteers are a rare breed, and without them, the world would be a very different place. But what does it take to be a great volunteer?
There is no easy answer to this question, as each organization is different and each venture has its own sets of challenges and requirements.
There are, however, a few qualities that every volunteer should strive to emulate, whether they are volunteering at their local homeless shelter or traveling abroad for an international organization.
A Bona Fide Volunteer…
1. …IS FLEXIBLE
Volunteering is not like any other job; you may not have fixed tasks or schedules, and situations can change quickly. If you are stuck on following a particular plan or doing things a certain way, you may not be as much of a help as you’d like to be.
2. …HAS A FIRM SENSE OF CONVICTION
Volunteers must have conviction that they are doing the right thing. If you don’t have any convictions about the cause or organization you are volunteering for, you won’t be very convincing to anyone, least of all yourself.
Good volunteers feel called to do what they do, and it shows in their faith, conviction and strong morals. Having conviction is the only way to inspire others, while morals show that you actually practice what you preach.
3. …IS TEACHABLE
A volunteer must be willing to learn and grow. You must be ready to learn from anyone, even If it is someone younger than you or someone you wouldn’t normally expect to learn anything from.
Everyone has something to teach, and if you aren’t open to new opinions and methods, you may miss out on some valuable lessons.
4. …IS COMPASSIONATE
Volunteers must feel compassion and empathy in order to be effective at what they do. If you want to help others, you must be able to put yourself in their shoes and understand their problems as if they were your own.
If you cannot relate to those you are trying to help, you won’t get very far.
5. …EXERCISES HUMILITY
Truly great volunteers are humble about what they do. They are aware of their limitations and willing to put aside their pride in order to learn something new.
Throughout your time as a volunteer, you will probably have countless moments when you realize just how little you really know. Pretending you know something when you don’t will rob you of the chance to grow and become a better person.
6. …IS PATIENT
Good volunteers know that everything takes time, and that good things come to those who wait. Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you want to accomplish anything, you need to be patient.
Progress will often be slow and perhaps not as obvious as you’d like, but if you persevere and wait patiently, you will see your efforts pay off.
Volunteering is often a thankless job, but if you are committed to seeing your venture succeed you will do whatever it takes to make that happen.
If you aren’t committed to the cause, you won’t be reliable or dependable and you’ll probably end up quitting before you have ever really started.
For this reason, it is important that you truly believe in something before you give up your time and money to help out. Commitment is the only thing that will pull you through when things get tough.
Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind OpenColleges. She is a volunteer at her local church and aims to share her learnings through her experiences. On her spare time, she loves to travel and see the world and various cultures.