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We all have them and we always will have them…chronically negative volunteers. Nothing is good enough. There are always “other people” who are complaining to them. There seems to always be some crisis that needs to be addressed. Ignoring them has serious consequences so we have to learn how to lead negative volunteers. Avoiding them is not an option and griping about them won’t help anything. We need to find a better plan.

Leading positive and encouraging volunteers is fun, but how you lead chronically negative leaders is the real mark of maturity. These people need firm leadership and must not be allowed to wreak havoc in your ministry. People often remain negative and loud because they have been talked about behind their back and never confronted. Many times these are people who want to serve, want to make a difference, but either their lack of emotional maturity or past hurts lure them toward negativity.  These people need us to lead them and not give up on them because so many times these are just people who have been scarred in the past and they are serving “with baggage.” There are times to move chronically negative volunteers out but before you make that move take these steps…

  • Pray for them. / Dealing with negative volunteers is draining and when we are tired and operating in our own strength it’s easy to give up on people. Pray for these volunteers. Pray that God will give you wisdom in dealing with them. Pray that God will soften their hearts. God can do what we can never do in the lives of negative people.
  • Stay positive. / No matter what a negative volunteer brings to you by email or in a meeting stay positive and never feed into their negativity. Negative people love negative company. Stay positive and keep revealing what good is happening all around the ministry.
  • Define reality for them. / Negative volunteers often get stuck on one issue which leads them to not understand the big picture. We have to have the courage and define reality for people who are stuck in a negative cycle. Paint the picture they are missing!
  • Challenge them. /  There will always come a time to challenge negative volunteers. Challenge them to see the good. Challenge them to choose a better attitude. Challenge them to rethink their position. Challenge them to ask why they seem stuck!
  • Confront them consistently. /  If you really want to help a negative volunteer you have to be consistent in confronting them when they get off track. Make sure you consistently communicate with them, encourage them, and lead them. Do not avoid confrontation when it comes to negativity.
  • Be willing to let them walk. /  At the end of the day, we have to be willing to allow negative volunteers to walk away from our church and our ministry. You can handle this with grace but there are times you just have to confront and allow them to walk away.

What are some things you have done to handle chronically negative volunteers?