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What to Do When a Volunteer Messes Up

Work with a student ministry volunteer team for very long and you’re bound to find yourself in a situation where someone messes up. Maybe it was a mistake out or ignorance, a youthful discretion or a flat-out screwup. Whatever situation you find yourself in, here’s a few steps in the process to be sure to hit:

Immediately jump in
The worst thing you can do when you get wind of a situation brewing is to think it will go away. It might blow over … but there’s a greater chance it will blow up. If you don’t jump into action, you might find yourself being asked questions you simply don’t have the answer to. A good leader runs in when everyone else runs away.

Get the whole truth
If there’s two sides to a situation, make sure you get both before you pass judgement. We all are guilty of skewing perspectives to gain an advantage – half truths always attempt to make the teller look better so if possible make sure you get someone’s take on it from the other end.

Mess ups are subjective
First-time irresponsibility from a rookie volunteer needs to be handled differently than a veteran volunteer who knows better. At the same time a leader who “knows better” has to be held accountable for their actions as well. No matter the situation, always consider the source and show grace quickly and generously … until it runs out.

Map out a timeline to return
If there needs to be a “season off” or some sort of tangible discipline, make sure you also draw a roadmap to return. Often times a leader realizes their mistake then is forgotten about as the ministry moves forward without them. If there is a chance for return, make it clear on the calendar the steps back into the trust of the ministry. If you’re past the point of no return … make that clear as well.

Dealing with volunteer issues isn’t easy! But you can do it – it takes strong leadership and you have to be OK testing some friendships for the overall strength of the ministry. Share you learnings in the comments, too!

JG

By | 2016-10-21T14:05:30+00:00 September 20th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Josh Griffin is one of the leading voices in youth ministry with over 20 years experience in the trenches, most recently as the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church. He's the co-founder of DownloadYouthMinistry.com and been in 300+ episodes of the DYM Podcast with Doug Fields. He's created more than 50 youth ministry resources and authored several books including 99 Thoughts for Small Group Leaders. Josh and his wife Angela have 4 kids, which now includes 2 teenagers of their own! Contact Josh | Speaking Requests

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