For a long time, volunteer behavior in the church was a mystery to me. My personal breakthrough in understanding came in phases. I had pastored University Baptist Church in Gainesville, Florida, for more than ten years when, one day, I went to a community meeting sponsored by a local hospital. Afterward, the doctor who had led the discussion was having coffee, and one of the matrons engaged him in animated conversation. At one point he paused thoughtfully and asked a searching question: "What do you suppose motivates you to behave as you do—to give your time and energy to this work?" He had discerned her to be a volunteering person, and he wanted to estimate how her abilities might be applied to his program.
Several years later, that scene flashed in my mind as I stood in our church auditorium and listened to a young woman with glowing eyes and vivacious voice describe her recent visits to sick people m the hospital. She was bringing yet another group of names of patients she had ...1