Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: My husband and I are from large families and every 4th of July we host a
huge celebration at our home, which is a large property at the edge of town.
In past years, because there have been arguments among and between
individuals who drank too much, we decided just to serve non-alcoholic drinks
this year. We had ice tea, lemonade, colas and water. A couple of families
decided to leave because they were looking forward to “cold beers.” These
individuals were from my side of the family and they are the ones who have
stirred up trouble before.

My husband came to me when they complained and asked if perhaps he
should go buy some beer, but I told him not to; that’s
not what we agreed upon. Everyone else seemed quite happy with our decision
and many thanked us because they had brought younger children.

I think I’m
okay with our decision, but my husband is not and wishes we had had some
alcoholic drinks ¬– just not as much as we’ve had in other years. We’d like to
know what you think because we’re already thinking about what to do next
year. ~ Indecisive Couple


Dear Indecisive Couple,
There are two approaches to your problem. The first is practical, the second is spiritual.

While I appreciate, admire and respect your husband’s desire to be a good host by providing alcohol to
those who desire it, I would encourage him not to do it in light of the behavior problems of the past
that resulted in you both looking at keeping your party “dry.” I think you both made the best choice so
your other guests could enjoy themselves at your party and feel safe. Clearly, based on the feedback
you received, they appreciated the “dry” event.

But primarily I would encourage your husband not to feel guilty over this. Clearly he likes those
people and wanted them to enjoy themselves and felt bad when he saw how disappointed they were
that no liquor was offered. He shouldn’t. He did nothing wrong. People with alcohol and drug
addiction problems are master manipulators and prey upon the feelings of others (especially guilt) in
order to get their way. Sadly, even the smallest amount of alcohol will fuel bad behavior in those who
have a drinking problem. In other words, you cannot hope to control alcoholic behavior by controlling

The last thing you need at your party next year is someone fighting over the last beer.
I would encourage you to let it be widely known among the families that, based on the success and
good time everyone had at your “dry” event, next year will be the same. That way there will be no
unpleasant or disappointed surprises. Everyone will know the ground rules going forward. Those who
come will come for the good time and camaraderie you intended.

The other approach is spiritual. The question is what has to be healed here. Well, there are several
issues but let’s focus on the feelings and concerns of your husband. He was clearly upset by this.

Ernest Holmes, founder of Science of Mind, pointed out that what occurs outside of us is a reflection
of what is inside of us. We get what we expect. It’s that simple. To change the outer we need only to
change the inner. That is, change our expectations. We need not even trouble ourselves trying to change
anyone else. It all begins, and is changed, within us. One of the ways we change that is with affirmative
prayer. It is not a begging prayer. The Universe has a poor track record when it comes to begging
prayers. It is a commanding prayer. You state the reality desired, believe it is yours, and it is. Here is a
prayer for your husband to say whenever he feels bad about this issue. I encourage him to memorize it
and repeat it until it “feels” real. That’s when the miracles happen.
“I am the perfect child of God. I work for the good; to heal, bless and uplift all. God is always on my
side. My choices for the good of all are always respected and honored by all parities, especially by
those I care about. They recognize and appreciate my good will and caring for them. They can never
hold anything against me. My life with them is filled with and reflects a mutual harmony, affection and
healthy respect for the limits I chose to set. And so it is.”

Anthony Kelson


Dear Indecisive Couple,
It’s kind of you to host a large party so both sides of your family can
get together. What a shame some allow the celebrations to go off track with arguments. It’s perfectly fine for you to set the atmosphere of your gathering. Perhaps the problem for those who left early for the lack of beer was the surprise that the atmosphere had changed from prior years. When you begin planning next year’s party you can let everyone know well in advance what refreshments will be served. No explanation is necessary but you certainly can note that with more younger children it
will be a “family friendly” event.
Do those who didn’t want a non-alcoholic party entertain you at their home? They could pick a different holiday and host whatever type of party they like. Perhaps a few smaller “adult” gatherings during the year will satisfy their desires for that type of socializing.
Whatever you and you husband choose, I hope everyone can relax and have
a good time.

Sharon Weisman is a founding member of the CVCA. She can be reached at sharon@jetcafe.org.

Sharon Weisman



QUESTION: I’m involved with a non-profit as a volunteer. I’ve heard the saying, “Many hands make light work.” However, when we have fundraisers to benefit the organization for special needs children, only the same few people show up to help. Most of us volunteers are older and, although we’re retired, it would be nice if others who have signed up to be volunteers would come out to help as well.

Is there a way we can inspire and motivate individuals to do their fair share? There are four of us who would like to quit and yet we won’t because we don’t want to let the kids down.

We welcome any ideas you may have.
~ Four Weary Volunteers


Dear Four Weary Volunteers,
This seems to be a common problem for non-profits that a few volunteers do all the work and then burn out and quit. Having worked with volunteers at a non-profit for over 20 years, I have some answers. It all starts at the top, so you will have to bring in your volunteer coordinator. If you’re too small to have one, bring in your top person to look at your volunteer program. How do you recruit, train and maintain?

Let’s start with maintaining volunteers because you don’t want to lose the few that you have. Volunteers aren’t employees so they need special care. The top person should be in regular contact with the volunteers, with birthday calls, talking over problems, and maybe having coffee or lunch once in awhile. Don’t wait until the end of the year holiday volunteer party. Thank yous need to be given on a regular basis. Most importantly, the top person should be working right along with the volunteers on projects. I have always said that I would never have a volunteer do something that I wouldn’t do. Working together creates a camaraderie that is essential in maintaining volunteers.

As far as getting more people to volunteer, if other people in your organization can see and feel this special warmth they will be more willing to come forth. But don’t use sign-up sheets. They need to be asked individually in person by the top person. For example, “Can you work with me on this project?” And then, make it fun! I always say that I won’t do anything that isn’t fun. Even washing dishes can be fun if you laugh and joke around. Make it special.

Carolyn Young


Dear Four Weary Volunteers,
The message paraphrase of the Bible quotes Jesus in Luke 10 1-2 : Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge: “What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands. 3 On your way! But be careful – this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.”

Jesus knew there was much work to be done, but the harvest hands, the laborers, were few. Jesus knew the work would not always be easy, and recruiting others would not be easy. In my experience as a pastor and someone who has served on many non-profit boards, the issue you raise is a common one. How can we invite others to help in a way that they become excited and invested in the work we find so fruitful? I love that you four have a passion for special needs folks! My daughter, who has special needs, benefits from the loving care of volunteers in several different arenas. As a parent, I love these folks because sometimes they are able to develop relationships that benefit one another. I am sure you have many stories of how a person or a family was helped by your work.

The hard part is when volunteers who have given their heart and soul to someone, or some project, want to step back and let someone else take over. This is an issue that has no magic pill you can give someone and make it happen.

So what to do in your situation may differ than someone who is in a different context. I like Jesus’ instruction to pray first, and to ask others to pray for this concern as well. Often out of someone’s prayer life a new insight or direction for action comes in a way they had not imagined before.

Also invite others to the work, but do all you can to encourage them to join in, perhaps even going and picking them up, taking them out to lunch to discuss what you are hoping they can do, sending a personal invitation in the mail, call them and be specific about what you see as the rewards, as well as some of the risks they might encounter. Don’t sugarcoat it because so often people try to make the work all roses and bubble bath, but really what it is about is having a calling to do something good for someone else no matter what it takes. Not everyone is called to this specific work, but some are and may not know how to get involved.

Another idea: Some businesses and schools often require their employees and students to do community service You could call and find out how to let these students know about the work you are hoping they can help with. Also, it is good to let new volunteers know they are not being asked to do this forever. Many folks are pulled in many directions these days, so they cannot always commit to the same work forever!

Another suggestion is to look towards a non-profit that has a very successful volunteer program. Special Olympics or the YMCA have many people involved in their work. Perhaps interviewing staff about what they do to encourage volunteers might be a good way to get ideas.

I pray you will find a way forward as you move towards the future.

Pastor Steve Marshall