If you lead a volunteer team, it’s inevitable that the time will come when you must have a conversation with a volunteer about a poor attitude, lack of commitment, or some other form of noncompliance.
That being said, in order for someone to be viewed as “noncompliant,” there must be a standard to adhere to. It is your responsibility to make certain that volunteer expectations are clearly defined for everyone. If you would like to see a sample of prospective volunteer forms, as well as a sample list of volunteer expectations, click here.
If volunteer expectations have been defined and you find yourself having to address a situation of noncompliance, here are a few steps to consider:
1. Approach the situation with love and concern for the individual, but also with love and concern for the ministry.
As a Christian, you have a responsibility to show love and compassion to everyone, but at the same time, as a ministry leader, you have a responsibility to that ministry. You must keep this balance in mind, when approaching someone in this manner.
2. Have a one-on-one conversation, with intent to reconcile the situation.
Have a heart-to-heart conversation with the individual and try to get to the root of the problem. The goal of this meeting isn’t necessarily rebuke, but reconciliation with the team. Point out discrepancies, with humility, while providing exhortation to remain faithful to the ministry.
Finding the source of the issue will help you and the individual know what steps need to be taken next. While there are ways you can assist volunteers who may feel under-equipped, there is little you can do about attitudes, spiritual giftedness, etc.
3. If the issue persists, ask the individual to step down from the position.
Removing someone from a position, as much as it may pain you or make you feel uncomfortable, must be done sometimes. John Maxwell says it best in his book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork,
“Sometimes a team member can turn a winning team into a losing one, either through lack of skill or a poor attitude. In those cases you must put the team first and make changes for the greater good.”
There are a few Bible passages that provide some guidance to those in this situation.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” – Matthew 18:15-20
“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,” – Titus 3:10
While these verses do not directly speak about these issues, they do provide some insights as to how one could handle them.
4. If possible, suggest alternative ministry opportunities.
God wants every Christian to serve Him by using their spiritual gifts (Galatians 5:13). I have seen many cases where people were not good team members, simply because they were not gifted in that particular area. Perhaps someone who signed up for children’s ministry did so out of a need in your ministry rather than their spiritual giftedness. The evident “bad attitude” may have been the result of stress because the individual’s personality or giftedness was not a good fit for the ministry.
Helping that person find a place where his or her gifts can be best used will not only kindle that individual’s relationship with God, but it can also help another ministry area flourish with a new team member.
Have you ever had a situation where you had to approach a volunteer about an issue? How did you handle it? What happened? Let us learn from your experience, in the comment section!