Dealing with a team member who smokes where children can see

Your Question:

“How do I deal with a CM team member who smokes in the parking lot as the kids are walking by?”

The Issues:

Possibly everyone on your CM team struggles with some sort of bad habit.  The difference between the other team members’ struggle and this team member’s bad habit is that now this team member’s bad habit is public.  If he/she is smoking in the parking lot and the children see it, this is now a public issue.  As with other challenges, you should consult your ministry supervisor or senior pastor. Unless you have a policy that requires every team member to be perfect, you’ll have to encourage the team member to not smoke on church campus.

Scripture Foundation:

“To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”  1Corinthians 9: 22, 23

Short Answer:

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1) Being bothered by a team member who smokes in the parking lot is not being “judgmental,” although you probably have strong opinions about why he/she should not smoke at all; his/her smoking where children can see him/her bothers you because you understand how impressionable children are. You, as a CM leader are all about “nudging” children closer to God by encouraging team members to be good examples of how to live a life that is pleasing to God.  Children watch everything. They learn by observing.  This team member may be an excellent mentor or example to children in the classroom, but not in the parking lot!  The mental difference between “judging” and “discipling” might be in the focus of our actions.  If you rebuke this team member harshly, your focus might be more on the “judging” side.  If, although, you come alongside your team member with compassion and mercy, you will be more effective in the discipling side.  You must understand that almost every smoker has tried to quit in the past.  Almost every smoker wants to quit.  Your gentle, yet firm, encouragement for this team member to consider his/her witness to the children may be the very thing that he/she has needed to motivate him/her to quit! Your first challenge should be to not smoke on the church campus.  If he/she says that he/she won’t be able to last that long between cigarettes, maybe you can segue into a conversation about quitting smoking.  Offer to come alongside him/her to encourage and pray for him/her.  Focus on the powerful impact he/she is having on the children and help him understand what the children might think when they see him/her smoking in the parking lot.  Remind him/her that a personal testimony of God’s power usually includes impossible challenges that were conquered with God’s strength. Help him/her imagine the power of the story of how he/she quit smoking!  If he/she refuses to change his/her behavior, that may begin a whole different conversation.  If this is the case, give him/her 3 or 4 days to consider your challenge, while you consult with your ministry supervisor or senior pastor for guidance in how you should proceed. 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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