Dealing with a team member who is negative

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who speaks negatively to other team members, and who spreads gossip?”

The Issues:

As a CM leader, you must care for each individual on your team. This doesn’t mean, though, that you let one team member negatively affect others on the team. A negative team member may force you to protect the whole team and remove the negative person.  If the negative team member shows evidence of working at correcting his/her attitude, you may permit him/her to remain on the team in a very protected, limited capacity.

Scripture Foundation:

“Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”  Proverbs 22:10

Short Answer:

Leading the children’s ministry is a complex process of navigating through the unique personalities of those on the CM team.  The larger the team, the more complex it becomes! God is very clear in His scriptures about the negative effects of being around a grumbler, mocker, or murmurer. He specifically challenges us to not be those people.  If you have a person on the CM team who is negative or who spreads gossip, you must deal quickly and directly with that personality trait.  This person may be a “nice person,” and those who know him/her accept the negativity as simply who he/she is.  The potential danger comes when a child, a parent, or another team member is bothered or insulted by this person’s comments.  When this happens, the negative results can be extremely damaging.  It is much better to deal directly with the negative team member and let him/her know that those negative comments or gossip are not part of serving on the CM team.  Confrontation is never easy, but it is always important.  Privately compliment the team member on his/her service and faithfulness; but clearly state that his/her negative comments or gossip is not permitted on the CM team.  (IMPORTANT: Document your conversations and decisions and keep the senior pastor or your ministry supervisor informed of your actions.) Challenge the negative team member with the decision to stop his negative comments or gossip with the power of the Holy Spirit, or to stop serving in the children’s ministry.  Give him/her a couple of weeks to make the decision. (You will have to adjust your team members’ service schedules to fill in for this team member’s absence.) Make sure that you base all of your comments on your desire to see him/her improve in his/her relationship with the Lord, while also protecting the ministry.  If, after the 2-week period, the team member wants to return to serve in the ministry, reinforce the fact that if he/she is still negative or shares gossip, you will have to ask him/her to leave the ministry.  Meet with his/her ministry partner who will serve with him/her in the CM room and ask this team member to listen closely to all that the team member says.  During the service do a couple of “pop-in” visits to visually let the negative team member know that you are watching.  After the service, ask the negative team member’s ministry partner for his/her observations.  If the negative team member remained positive, contact the negative team member and encourage his/her efforts.  (Remain close to the situation for several weeks.) If the negative team member’s ministry partner reports that the negative team member was still negative, then you are faced with removing the negative team member from the ministry.  Do so personally and quickly.  Encourage the former team member to grow spiritually and to let the Spirit of God give him/her peace. Update your documentation of the issue and meet with the senior pastor or your ministry supervisor to inform them of your decision.. 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.”

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