East District Lay Leader Finds His Volunteer Niche

Stephen Gillem

What’s there for an unhandy guy who can’t cook to offer? Plenty, says Stephen Gillem

East District Lay Leader

Years ago, I was searching for a volunteer opportunity at our church, St. Andrew UMC in Plano. While my prayer life and church attendance were fulfilling, I felt there was more I could do, especially since Christ had given so much to me and my family.

As Kyle Idleman says in his book Not a Fan, Jesus asks us to go beyond cheering on the sideline as a fan; we’re to be involved. My wife and I discussed this, but she also knew I had limited skills to offer. Let’s just say I’m not very handy at fixing anything beyond replacing a battery, I don’t have a green thumb, and I’m a poor cook.

Well, God answered one Sunday when my wife pointed out a notice in our church bulletin about a “Career Care” event. I’ve been recruiting talent for companies my entire career, and this program teaches people how to find a job — that was something I could certainly do! We covered writing resumes, networking for job openings, interviewing skills and supporting people who were out of work. I was involved with the program for over eight years.

When we moved from Plano back to my hometown of Sulphur Springs, the drive to St. Andrew for the program took too much time from family and work. Sadly, I closed my volunteer window with Career Care.

I felt guilty about dropping Career Care and prayed about what God might have me do next. As they say, be careful what you ask for! My volunteer life became even more fulfilling than before. Our church has provided opportunities with worship services, the finance committee and helping to build a Generosity Calendar with help from the Texas Methodist Foundation.

In time, I got to know East District Superintendent Vic Casad. I’ve found him to be a wonderful Christian leader, and we’ve had great conversations about the East District, including where I might help.

The result of our talks was my volunteering as the district lay leader. In this role, I’ve been able to visit and work with more energized clergy and laity than I ever imagined. Vic has been kind enough to invite me to visit some of the churches in the East District with him. Everyone I’ve met has been wonderful, and I look forward to supporting and working with all of them.

One of the best experiences was reconnecting with my youth director, Larry Davis. He’s the current pastor at College Mound UMC in the Terrell area.

Closing the window with Career Care was difficult, but I’m more excited than ever about this new window and the opportunities that are ahead of us.

Published: Wednesday, January 25, 2017