I’m so blessed that my wife is not only my best friend, she’s also my partner in ministry. She understands kids ministry, and like me, she also does a good bit of traveling to other churches doing trainings and consultations. She recently went to a church to consult with them about some issues they were having with their Sunday morning Bible study curriculum. The children’s minister called her in advance and told her that the volunteers were largely pleased with the curriculum, but one volunteer was so unpleased with the curriculum that her displeasure was causing the whole volunteer base to get upset.
In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren describes certain personalities as EGR or “extra grace required”. My wife and I have used this term a lot to describe people that we know. In the case of the church above, I think that the volunteer would definitely be an EGR or maybe even an EEGR.
Here are some tips that might help you if you find yourself dealing with an EGR volunteer:
- Teach them. It could be that your volunteer is struggling because he has no idea what he is doing. I’ve heard people say, “Well, he has a college degree. He should be able to teach kids!” So untrue. Instead of just assuming that everyone knows how to read a leader guide, make sure that you are providing adequate training for your volunteers. This can include online trainings like Ministry Grid, regional training events, worker meetings, and apprenticeships.
- Lead by example. Is it possible that your own attitude is spilling over into the attitudes of your volunteers? When someone complains about an activity or event, do you jump on the bandwagon or do you try to give it a positive spin? I’m sure you know which of the aforementioned choices will have the more desirable outcome.
- Try matching the volunteer with a super positive volunteer. I think about my son Nash’s current Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Carol. She is always so positive. If our ministry area had a teacher needing a little positive outlook on life, Mrs. Carol would be a great partner teacher.
- Pray. The Bible tells us to pray constantly. And we should definitely pray for our volunteers. Pray that your volunteer’s attitude will change. Prayerfully consider approaching the volunteer and ask how you can help her have a more positive experience. Finally, and probably most unconventionally, you may need to pray for a “blessed subtraction” (maybe asking God to show the volunteer a place in your church where he may be more suited for ministry).
Jeff Land loves life! That’s pretty great, because his job here at LifeWay is the Team Leader for Bible Studies for Life: Kids. Jeff loves his life which is so blessed by his amazing wife, Abbey, and their four sons, Reed, Nash, Will, and Tuck. A natural encourager and fun-lover, look for Jeff’s posts about teacher appreciation and game ideas. When not serving at work, Jeff serves 2nd graders at his church, First Baptist Church, Joelton, TN.