Do you ever people watch? Every so often my wife and I will go somewhere like the mall and grab some coffee and as we talk, we will watch that myriad of activity as people pass by. Sometimes we will play a guessing game of what conversations are happening as people move around. It is a fun little social observation because you never really know what is happening behind the scenes. I like to wonder and guess at what brings people there that day…what is motivating them? What is happening inside their head?

You might be shocked if you found out what was really happening on the inside. I recently read a Rolling Stone interview with Justin Bieber and was so intrigued by what was happening inside of Justin’s head. He talked about wanting to live like Jesus. I would have never guessed that this desire existed within the Bieb. It changed my understanding and perspective about him because I now know what is driving him.

When it comes to the volunteers I serve alongside I want to know the same thing – What drives them? What is happening on the inside? What are they thinking? What are they struggling with? What is the next challenge or obstacle they need to overcome?

I want to know these things because I want to lead well – and that involves knowing what is happening in the lives of your volunteers. I believe there is a collaboration we enter into with each of our volunteers.

For each individual they begin serving to address some sort of internal need. The felt need might be to correct some social wrongs, or to give back in some way. For others it is the need to keep their mind busy and occupied. Some serve because they see something that needs to be done and they automatically “run toward the fire”. The truth is there are countless reasons why people start to serve – and that reason creates a drive within them. If you can find out what drives a person you are in a great position to serve them well.

I mentioned there is a collaboration we enter into with volunteers. Each volunteer brings their drive and that gets them “in the game.” We work with our volunteers with a spiritual formation agenda. In the book of Colossians Paul gives a charge to believers, and I believe his challenge to believers is cultivated in the process of volunteering. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col 2:6-7)

That is what should drive us as leaders – that as people serve and give their time and energy they would become more rooted, built up and strengthened in their faith. For spiritual leaders the payoff of people volunteering is not tasks getting done, it is people being transformed.  Our success in helping volunteers experience this transformation is tied to our ability to learn what drives them.