Dealing With a team member who is consistently late

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who is always late arriving to serve in the CM?”

The Issues:

A team member who arrives late may simply need a challenge to organize his/her schedule, or he/she may need to be challenged to consider his/her commitment to the ministry.  You may be tempted to “let it slide” because you like this person, but that is not a good decision. Being late to a service has significant “ripple effects”! The parents must wait to check in their children, his/her ministry partner may have to wait to open the room while reassuring the parents that he/she “will be here soon.” You may be forced to step into the room to fill in for the tardy team member and disconnect from the supervision of the ministry while waiting.  This is an issue that needs direct confrontation!

Scripture Foundation:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2: 3, 4

Short Answer:

The A team member who always arrives late for his/her service commitment may think that it is okay to do so.  For some reason, he/she believes that it doesn’t matter, or that he/she is getting away with it.  As a CM leader, you know neither of these perceptions are correct.  As with any ministry challenge, you must consider the “ripple effects” of this team member’s choices and actions.  His/her tardiness is affecting the parents and possibly the other team members.  Other team members know about his/her consistent tardiness and some of them must adjust their ministry because of it.  You may understand this team member’s personal challenges and life, but you must not permit this consistent habit to continue.  Paul compared the group of believers as a “body.” In his first letter to the Corinthian church, he wrote this about the connections between each believer in the “body of Christ”: “…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). So, the one team member who is consistently late for his/her ministry commitment isn’t just one isolated team member!  Once you decide to confront this team member, you must do it carefully.  You don’t want to “bruise” this person to the degree that he/she quits the ministry, and yet you need to be serious about the effects of his/her actions on the entire ministry. Sometimes people require something important to be at risk before they change their behavior.  You need to let the team member know that his/her tardiness puts his/her service in the CM at risk.  The best way to do this is to be at his/her room or ministry area waiting for his/her arrival.  When he/she arrives late, say something like, “Good morning! I’m glad you’re finally here.  We’ve all be waiting for you.  I need to talk with you right after the service. Have a great service.” He/she may say something like, “Am I in trouble?”  This is not the best time to get into the issue, so simply say, “We’ll talk after the service.” This will let him/her know that his/her tardiness is no longer “okay” with you.  Don’t feel badly about knowing that his/she will think about this for the entire service.  This will underscore your seriousness about the issue. When you talk with this team member, begin by asking how the service went.  Encourage him/her by complimenting him/her regarding something that happened during the service. Tell him/her, “I’m so glad you are on the CM team! You’re very good at what you do.” Then, after reinforcing his/her value, say, “But, I need to talk with you about your tardiness. It is really hard on us when you arrive late.” If you have a pre-service time of prayer or announcements with the CM team, he/she is also missing that time.  You should mention that as well.  If you have talked with this team member about this issue before, you should mention that.  If his/her tardiness is connected to family issues or responsibilities, challenge him/her with the simple step of beginning to get ready to come to the church earlier.  Ask the Lord to help you be sensitive to the team member’s life and challenges, while still being focused on “what’s best for the children.” Make the conversation short and focused.  At the end of the conversation, challenge the team member to take the next few days to consider his/her commitment to the ministry.  Clearly state that you cannot let him/her continue to be a member of the CM team if the tardiness continues.  This will establish the fact that “something is at risk.”  Encourage him/her to think about what he/she is willing to adjust to prevent this from happening again. Tell him/her that you will contact him/her in three days to discuss his/her decision.  Reinforce his/her value and your desire to have him/her in the ministry.  Pray with him/her, and say, “Have a great rest of the day. I’ll talk with you in three days.”  Then leave.  It is important that you don’t let this conversation be long and drawn out!  Don’t get sidetracked into talking about another topic.  Accentuate the importance of this challenge by making the conversation supportive, complimentary, and short.  Remember God’s encouragement in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” This should free you from feeling “guilty” for confronting this team member. Your “wounds” are purposeful.  Remember that you are a shepherd to the ministry.  Sometimes a shepherd must use the “rod” to protect the sheep.  It is part of your calling to protect the ministry.  If you have to correct a team member, that is what God wants you to do.  It is your responsibility to do this correction with love and gentleness, while also remaining firm about the standards.  Hopefully, the team member will commit to being on time from now on.  If he/she does, make sure to overflow your compliments when he/she arrives on time for the service.  If he/she chooses to step away from the ministry, don’t feel guilty.  Remind yourself that this is his/her choice.  You have done the right thing by standing firm on the standards that lead to a stronger team.  Ask God to comfort both the team member and you!  For more help, click on the links below.

Click here to read more about how to deal with human nature in the “image of God.”

Back to the “Dealing With A Challenging Team Member” page.

Support those who serve on your children's ministry team