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4 Steps to Help When You Find Yourself Saying “Yikes! I Have to Fire a Volunteer.”

4 Steps to help when you find yourself saying (1)That dreaded moment is here. That motivated, excited person who loves God that you recruited for your worship team, tech team, sound team, etc. is not doing that well. It’s not that they just aren’t doing that well, they are also pulling others down, and monopolizing time that you don’t have. You love to train, disciple, and build into people, but there comes a time when enough is enough, and yes, you have to fire a volunteer. As a side note, if you have not experienced this before, then stick around in your position long enough, and trust me, you’ll get there. More than anything, this is a reality of working with people, and helping them grow in the Lord. As leaders, this is about learning how to best equip people and place them where they can best use their gifts in the church.

What do you do when you find yourself needing to fire someone who is willing to give their time, energy, and skills to serving the church? The last thing we want to do is to squash their passion for serving the church, right!? How do we tactfully handle these potentially messy situations? Fear not! We have some tips that will help you out:

1. Pray
We know this, but sometimes it’s the last thing we remember to do. We are all in the ministry to serve and to utilize the gifts God has given us to proclaim His glory to everyone, everywhere. No one has a monopoly on the best way to handle a situation or work with people. With humility, we should bathe this entire process in prayer. Let’s drop to our knees and ask God for the following:

– Wisdom (James 1:5)
– Understanding (Proverbs 2:3)
– Humility (Philippians 2:3-4)

2. Assess
Take some time to assess the situation and grab a trusted advisor to join you in this process (Proverbs 11:14). It is during this time that you need to take a 30,000 foot view of the ministry, this person’s role, and their shortcomings. Ask yourself the following questions:

– What are their expectations?
– Are they lacking the necessary equipment?
– Are they lacking the necessary training?

If you can come up with solutions here that could keep you from firing the volunteer, then by all means, create a strategy and implement the plan. If everything has been taken care of and the individual still needs to be fired, then continue on.

3. Meet
Get together with the individual. Don’t send a note. Don’t use sticky notes. Don’t email them. And for all things good, please, please, please do not use social media! Also, be wise: if it’s a person of the opposite sex, don’t meet behind closed doors. When you meet together, understand up front that each of you has a responsibility. You have a responsibility to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and they have a responsibility to humbly listen to criticism (Proverbs 15:31). With that as the foundation, have a meaningful conversation. Here are a few points to hit on while you are talking:

– Acknowledge their willingness to serve and show your appreciation
– Discuss vision and purpose of their role to ensure clarity
– Show where you are seeing discontinuity between their actions/attitudes and the role
– Acknowledge the gifting you are seeing in that individual
– Offer another way to utilize their talents, or if they do not know, then guide them to resources to help them find their talents

4. Critique
Now that you have fired the individual and helped them to know their strengths and get plugged in where they will thrive, it is time for you to critique your own volunteer management process. Start fresh. If someone volunteers for a position, then set the standard that they are agreeing to be trained, coached, and reviewed regularly to ensure they are utilizing their gifts. This is a structured, well thought out plan versus simply thanking God that you have a warm body to take care of a task. Having that mentality is sure to get you into a world of frustration and firings. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

– Could you have handled the situation better?
– Could you have provided better training/oversight?
– Did you rush to put someone into this position?
– What process will you utilize to place a new volunteer into this role?

It is never fun to fire volunteers, but in leadership, it is a necessary task. Stay encouraged! If you create a fresh, new, structured volunteer management process, then the number of firings will be greatly reduced.

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