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How to Confront a Problem Volunteer

When you are leading any type of ministry, you have to continually address problems that creep up from week to week. Sometimes it’s a resource problem, and sometimes it boils down to a broken system. Often the hardest problems to confront are people problems, and when they are supposed to be in leadership on your team as a volunteer, the stakes get even higher. Not sure about you, but I tend to put off confronting people problems because I never enjoy conflict. It seems like a good option in the moment to just give problem volunteers more time so they can figure things out on their own, but more often than not that option just results in more dysfunction. If you are not careful, one problem volunteer can infect the rest of your team with dissatisfaction, confusion and frustration. When you have a volunteer who is off track, it is always best to confront the issue and help them get back on track or out of your ministry area. Here are a few principles that help when confronting a problem volunteer …

  • Seek wisdom before confronting // Get a second opinion when you see a problem. It’s never a good idea to confront an issue when leading inside a vacuum. Get insight from your supervisor or another lead volunteer about what they see going on.
  • Pray before you respond // Slow down, pray for that volunteer, and lay the issue before God and seek His wisdom. Leading people is always a challenge, and leading a dysfunctional volunteer can be even more daunting. Do not face the issue in your own strength.
  • Confront with courage and clear direction for a next step // Make sure you challenge a problem volunteer by speaking truth about what the issue is, but also make it super clear what the next step is for them. Confront with redemption in mind. People can improve if they are willing to listen, be flexible and learn.
  • Be willing to allow problem volunteers to walk away // Always have the courage to let people walk who are not willing to fix the problem. As a leader you will have people walk away from your team when you set the standard. When a problem volunteer leaves, it just opens up a spot for a healthy team member to step up!

What are some steps you take when confronting a problem volunteer? Have you ever waited too long to confront, and how did that turn out in the end?  

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Michael is a follower of Christ, a husband, a dad and a pastor. He serves Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee as the Executive Pastor. He has served in multiple family ministry roles as a kids, student, and family pastor for 16 years. He’s also the Team Leader @ Parent Ministry for Kids and drinks way too much Diet Mountain Dew! Follow Michael on twitter at @michael_bayne.