Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Gardening is therapeutic for me. After spending much of my day writing and preparing to teach a Bible study, I enjoy the physical exertion of battling the weeds in my yard.

Having lived in a large city for most of my life, I confess I labeled anything I didn’t plant as a “weed.” But a neighbor who is a master gardener took pity on this city-slicker and taught me about volunteers.

Fire BushVolunteer plants appear in a new place, often from seeds spread by the wind, birds, or small animals. Unlike unwanted weeds, volunteers are desirable—originating from plants that had been cultivated in other areas of the garden.


One such volunteer recently planted itself in my yard.

Fire Bush volunteerA large fire bush on the edge of our property sent a volunteer to a barren area against our screened porch. For several months I had tried to determine what plants would do well in that spot. It’s an area where the soil never quite dries out because it doesn’t receive full sun. The volunteer not only planted itself in the empty place, it is thriving. It makes me smile every time I look at it!

There’s another type of volunteer that brings me joy.

These volunteers are people. As much as I enjoy my volunteer plant, I appreciate volunteer people even more. Volunteers who step up to fulfill a task. It could be the smallest behind-the-scenes duty, unnoticed by the general public. Or it might be a responsibility that requires daily sacrifice. These volunteers see a need and fill it. They make my heart smile whenever I see them!

Volunteers are a special breed. They don’t look for recognition and often shy away from it. They may be self-aware, but they are not self-focused. Often, they are motivated by gratitude to God and to others.

Today, I salute the volunteers I’m privileged to serve with in ministry. Because they thrive where they have been planted, others are able to thrive, too.

Are you a volunteer? Thank you!
Are you blessed by volunteers? Let them know!

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