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 I deal with so many people who give so much time for which they do not get paid, helping others and meeting human need.  And if there are any thank you's  or kudos, they are few and far between.


Weekly Reflection: Pastor Dana Reardon
Aug. 14, 2006

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What Makes a Volunteer Tick?

I have seen several programs on TV about the anatomy of a terrorist.  The programs delve into what makes terrorists tick, what motivates them to do what they do.  Fascinating stuff.

I would like to see a program on the anatomy of a volunteer.  What motivates them?  What makes them tick?

My fascination comes form being a professional helper.  I was once a nurse and now I am a pastor.  One could see whatever volunteer work I have done as an extension of my job.  So maybe I wouldn't be motivated to help as a volunteer.  I don't know, but I hope so.

I deal with so many people who give so much time for which they do not get paid, helping others and meeting human need.  And if there are any thank you's  or kudos, they are few and far between and so removed from the initial impulse to help that I doubt that they would be a motivating factor.

I think of this friend of mine who is a pastor.  His congregation goes to South America every year on a mission trip to build housing.  He didn't start it.  Some member who had some connection to the country did.  She saw a need and wanted to meet it.

I think of all the young Peace Corps volunteers who go to strange places where they don't know the language and live under conditions that they would not have to experience where they grew up to help.  They would probably say they saw a need and wanted to fill it.

I think more locally of the men who run the Boy Scout troop in my church.  They put in countless hours with boys who need their leadership and probably create more volunteers in the process.  Their sons are grown, so the men don't do it just for their own families.  They would probably say that they saw a need.

I don't think that most of the volunteers I know would be able to explain adequately why they do what they do.  They just do.   Needs are all around us all the time.  But what causes us to see them and want to do something to meet them?

Perhaps it is truly people seeing Jesus in their neighbors near and far and knowing that whatever they do for the least, they do for Christ.  But more likely they are not that conscious of the motivation.  I am convinced that they will be like the sheep described in Matthew 25, at the judgment saying, "When did I see you...?"

It is the Holy Spirit who calls us. The Holy Spirit connects a grateful heart to a pressing need and then opens the eyes of the heart to see.  And an open heart only knows how to give.

Lord,  Our prayer is that you open the eyes of our hearts, not only to see You but to see You in every human need and then move the rest of our lives to follow our hearts.  Amen




Copyright 2006, The Rev. Dana Reardon. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Email her at mspastor@aol.com.



The Rev. Dana Reardon is pastor at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Warwick, RI.  A lifelong Lutheran, she came to ordained ministry after 21 years in nursing, mostly in pediatric intensive care.  She graduated from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia in 1998 and served 4 years in Upstate New York before becoming a New Englander.  She is still trying to understand the accent.  While in the Upstate New York Synod she chaired the Stewardship Team.  That began her fascination with what makes stewards -- and more, what makes for generosity. She has three amazing daughters: Pastor Reardon says much of what she knows of life she learned from them.