Monday Morning Insights

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    Ever Have a Volunteer Who Was Hard to Work With?

    Ever Have a Volunteer Who Was Hard to Work With?

    I'm pretty much convinced that some churches have at least one or two extra people on their staff because they think volunteers are too difficult to work with.  In this video, Mac Lake sites down with Doug Franklin, the President of Leadertreks, and asks him the questions that you have had about how to deal with difficult volunteers.  How do I know you had these questions?  Because I had them too!  Watch...

    Today's question:  Is there a situation you are facing right now that you aren’t sure how to handle?  How can we help?  (There are always people reading MMI who have GREAT advice!)



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    1. Peter Hamm on Wed, May 05, 2010

      I’ve taken some bad volunteers and turned them loose in a better role and they became indispensible. Sometimes, that “squeaky wheel” needs to be leading somewhere, and then they might become a very great asset instead of a burden.

      From worst… to best… I’ve had it happen a bit. It’s cool when it does!

      On the other hand, I work in the arts ministries in our church, and when you have to “re-assign” somebody from one of those, it can become needlessly personal in a hurry. Yuk. I’d love to know how somebody has successfully dealt with that!

    2. Brian L. on Wed, May 05, 2010

      Peter - nothing to do with this topic, but would you be so kind as to give me your e-mail address?  You can send it to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Thanks!

      Brian L.

    3. rbud on Wed, May 05, 2010

      Interesting discussion, but falls short I think on practical apps. All that was said is pretty obvious, and I don’t mind the reminder, but some situations are more complex than expressed here. In one church I had a treasurer who was often combative and billigerent about stuff. If you even asked the wrong question (to him), or the right question in the wrong way, he’d go off on everyone around him. I tried to rechannel his efforts, but being treasurer was all he wanted to do and believed it was his only skill/strength for church service, so treasurer or leave the church. Actually, I would have been content for him to leave, but the other leadership wouldn’t consider it. So, what to do? We just lived with it, often unhappily.

      Most of the time, a gentle word of caution or explanation has a good impact. On occasion I’ve taken a vol aside and explained that what he/she was doing was not accomplishing the goals he/she desired, making some suggestions for alternate language, approaches, etc. True, you run a risk of offending, but for me a straight forward approach usually works best, and to offend one is better than crashing a program. I’m not very good at subtle euphemism or small talk, so I go for the direct. But that’s just me. I’ve seen others work wonders while beating around the bush.

    4. Shelton on Wed, May 05, 2010

      Haha, just before I read this I texted a volunteer that we are having trouble with asking him to come by for a chat.  Timely posting Todd, thank you very much.  I too have encountered the problem Rbud speaks of when a person takes complete ownership of something within the church.  To ask them to change their area of service is to insult them on a personal level.  What do you all think of periodically rotating all of your volunteers to new positions in order to avoid such a problem?  Has anybody ever tried this?

    5. Pastor R on Thu, May 06, 2010

      We’ve had a volunteer blow up over the past couple of months. Upon learning of a prior arrest of a children’s ministry volunteer - a parent - our children’s ministry leader investigated and removed that person from ministry. Then the problems started. This person insisted that since she hadn’t been convicted, she had a right to work in the ministry. Our children’s ministry leader had to hold up through threatening phone calls, emails and the like. I didn’t receive those threats - just intimations that they were going to sue us. They complained widely about how poorly they’d been treated and how unChristian we were. Since we keep all investigations confidential, we were limited in the public responses and defenses we could make. Still working through it.

    6. Jan on Sat, May 08, 2010

      I thought this was good very basic stuff.  But in the last few years we’ve had to deal with people that have a heck of a lot more issues than a simple kind confrontation would deal with. 
      Frankly, some people just want their way no matter what and will do anything to get it, even destroy you and the church in the process.

      We had one woman who we tried to work with for a full three years, until one day it just came to me that she was not willing to grow or change or work with anyone else.  When I said “I really don’t think you WANT to be happy about anything in this ministry.”  She and her husband basically threw a major two year old tantrum in front of anybody and everybody.  It was very eye opening.

      She’s gone now, but not before we went through a lot of grief.

      We did learn a lot about ourselves though… and we learned that we really did have the will to love difficult people.

      Sometimes I think God allows those people in our lives and ministries not to change the difficult person, but because we need them… to refine us… to challenge our beliefs and convictions… to teach us to love…

      What are we dealing with now that we can’t handle?
      Really not people issues like this, but discouragement in a difficult area to serve in.  I feel like I’m in a foreign missionary field, without the support we need and no furlough in sight.

      Not this issue though!  Good discussion, thanks!

    7. MBA Colleges in India on Fri, May 28, 2010

      I guess this situation is similar to what many small firm deal with. A lot of students do internships without getting paid. It is important to craft a value proposition. As already pointed out having a clear set of rules does help but more than that if we remind the volunteer (whenever things go astray) that his takeaway will be affected it would bring the things back to normal.


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