Before you can recruit a single volunteer, you must first understand their why; what is it that pushes your recruits to volunteer? What is that thing inside of them that creates a willingness to give of their time and resources? Once you figure that out, you are one step closer to developing healthy, committed team members. Understanding motivation is the foundation of any successful team in ministry. [bctt tweet="Understanding motivation is the foundation of any successful team in ministry." username="dukematlock"] In our last post, we discovered the first part of volunteer motivation. However, we aren’t done yet. Research shows there are two approaches to understanding volunteer motivation: the sociological and the psychological approach. We have already covered the sociological approach in depth, but just in case you forgot, you can catch up on that post here. This week, we’ll be discussing the psychological approach. Bear in mind that volunteer motivation is all about meeting needs. While last week was about meeting an external need, this week is about meeting internal needs.  

The Psychological Approach

We all have personal experiences that drive our actions. People who grew up watching sports with a beloved family member are often the most passionate fans as adults. Those with difficult childhoods are often motivated to reach out to children who may be going through similar situations in an effort to help that child avoid the pain that they suffered. Our experiences shape us; they create within us a desire and a passion for helping the people we identify with. When we are talking about volunteers, their personal experiences are important. Those experiences create passion and motivation. For example, during my tenure as a senior pastor, I was always passionate about ministries for single mothers and inner-city kids. I was passionate about these things because I was raised by a single mother in the inner city during my early childhood. Serving those people met a need in my life that my experiences created. Every single person in your church and on your team has a story. If you want to staff your ministries with excellence, you need the right person for each role. The only way to find that right person is to know their stories. The psychological approach teaches us the importance of internal needs. Needs will always find a way to be met, our job as leaders is to help people meet those needs appropriately. When you build your team with people who have no passion for their role, not only will your ministry suffer, but your volunteer will suffer. Their growth will be stunted; it will only be a matter of time until you lose them. A volunteer that is meeting their internal needs by serving will be passionate, motivated, and committed. They will grow and, as a result, so will your ministry.  

Coaching Questions

Again, I’d like to encourage you to set aside some time this week to reflect on what we are discussing. Here are a few coaching questions to help facilitate your reflection time.
  1. What internal needs motivate you? Where do they come from?
  2. How well do you know the stories of your volunteers? How can you learn them better?
  3. If there are volunteers on your team that are serving but not meeting those internal needs, what can you do to help them address that?


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