It’s hard to argue with the wisdom of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King, Jr. who know a thing or two about making the world a better place. These are just a few of the global leaders who’ve had a favorable word to say about volunteering and serving others. If you’re in need of inspiration to take your first steps as a volunteer or affirmation that giving back is a great thing to do, we’ve selected seven of the most powerful volunteer quotes to motivate you.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the beauties of volunteering is that anyone can get involved. There are no prerequisites or entry standards like getting into college and you won’t undergo a grilling interview like you would with a new job. You don’t have to worry about performance reviews or exams and there are no essays to write. It just requires a commitment and passion to make the world a better place, no matter what field of interest you are working in. By opening your heart to others and volunteering, you have automatically succeeded and achieved greatness by giving of yourself for nothing in return.
“It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act” – The Dalai Lama
This volunteer quote from the Dalai Lama is perhaps one of the most powerful in this day and age when “armchair activism” is at an all-time high. It’s so easy to share a good news story on Facebook or tweet your opinion about social injustice or environmental destruction. But are you actually willing to give up your own time and energy to make the change you preach? Those who choose to volunteer are taking that extra step to make the world a better place. As they say, actions speak louder than words and this is definitely true when it comes to being compassionate towards others.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Gandhi
There are plenty of research studies out there confirming the benefits of volunteering, not only for the communities affected but also the individual. It’s a great way to boost your self-confidence and learn leaderships skills within an environment that is understanding and supportive. You’ll probably meet like-minded individuals who’ll become friends for life, as well as those who will inspire you by their lifetime commitment to serve others. In an age when we are becoming more individualistic and isolated, volunteering has also shown to help combat mental health issues by offering a sense of community that might otherwise be lost.
If you’re volunteering with disadvantaged communities or in countries lacking adequate development, your perspective on life may also be altered. When serving those less fortunate than yourself, issues in your own life that may have seemed important to you might take a back seat and your problems suddenly won’t seem like the end of the world! You might also discover a new passion or a career pathway that you hadn’t previously considered.
“The willingness to share does not make one charitable; it makes one free” – Robert Brault
In much of the developed world, we are not naturally inclined to be charitable in the way we live our lives. There is a strong emphasis on “success” in terms of academic results and the prestige of our career but less so on the overall wellbeing of the world that sustains us and our fellow human beings.
By sharing your own time through volunteering, you are acknowledging that there is more to life than accumulating wealth or being able to project a lavish lifestyle onto social media. Perhaps you’ve come to a realization that rarely does wealth correlate with happiness but can confine one to a life of constantly wanting more.
Volunteering with communities around the world (many of whom may be disadvantaged) can be an eye-opening experience in this respect. It’s often those that have the least that are the most content in life, finding happiness in family and cultural traditions. By sharing your time, you may also experience the freedom that this brings, without the expectations of being “successful” in a conventional sense.
“I wish to do something Great and Wonderful, but I must start by doing the little things like they were Great and Wonderful” – Albert Einstein
In a world obsessed with celebrities, it can seem like being famous is the only way to make a mark in the world or be remembered. But you can do wonderful things that impact the lives of many on a day to day basis when you volunteer. You might not see your name in the headlines but that doesn’t mean you haven’t made a difference or won’t be remembered endearingly by those whose lives you’ve affected. When you commit to a cause with passion, you are doing something great and wonderful, which is the first step in changing the world.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible” – St. Francis of Assisi
If you watch the nightly news and look at the current state of the world, it can often be overwhelming. You might wonder how any small act of volunteering can make a difference when there is so much suffering and injustice occurring on a daily basis around the globe.
In the wake of natural disasters, it can often seem like there is little hope, with so much destruction to deal with. But by volunteering in areas most at need (such as disaster relief) and doing what is necessary, communities can rebuild and develop step by step. Over time, they will become sustainable and find a bright future filled with opportunities. But if nobody takes the first steps, what hope will there ever be to achieve the seemingly impossible?
“The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world.” – James Baldwin
If you’ve grown up without volunteers in your family or social circles, it might seem like one of those things that “other people” do. Perhaps you haven’t considered global issues to be your issues or you haven’t been exposed to the benefits that volunteering brings. But it only takes one person to bring about a shift in the way those around them see their role in the global community. If enough individuals take it onboard to make the world a better place and share this experience with their family and friends, this new vision would become reality, leading to a brighter future for all.