You have the opportunity to train a volunteer for children’s ministry but a recurring problem arises-this volunteer gets frustrated and angry. When you’re working with kids, that can be a serious problem if you let it get out of hand. Children’s ministry workers need to display patience and model Christ to kids but it’s true that no one is perfect. What should you do about an impatient volunteer? Reassign him to the office or help him grow?
In all humility, I am quite comfortable leading a group of 100 kids in a game of Simon Says; however, that doesn’t mean I don’t have issues I need to work in. I’ve worked in children’s ministry for nearly two decades and there are times when I get angry during service too. Still, you have to chuck those feelings to the side and keep on moving. I’ve learned to manage my emotions but for newbie volunteers this doesn’t always come easy, especially in a fast-paced ministry like ours. What should you do?
Put yourself in the impatient volunteer’s shoes. Remember how you felt when you first began working with kids? That’s how he’s feeling. Does he have problems at home or at work? Sometimes life situations can filter into ministry time.
Observe the volunteer. What triggers your volunteer’s anger or impatience? In one case, one of my volunteers got angry when he felt he wasn’t be respected by the children. Another volunteer felt frustrated because all of her craft supplies weren’t in the right place. It’s hard to know just by guessing, you’ll have to observe. In some cases, the volunteer may not even know they are getting angry or what might trigger it.
Talk to the volunteer one-on-one. Never confab before or after a teaching session, emotions can be raw and people do get tired. Talk about what you’ve observed and be specific. Say, “I noticed that when little Peggy didn’t follow your instructions you got angry. It’s okay to feel angry but yelling or showing that anger isn’t what you should do.”
Give clear instructions. Now you should give tips on what the ideal solution would have been. Don’t just “tell” the volunteer but help him think it through. Adults learn faster and listen deeper when they feel they arrive at a solution themselves. They won’t mind you leading them to some new ways of coping with children’s ministry challenges but for it to get in his heart, he should work it out himself.Do some role-playing.
Finish your meeting with affirmation. Focus on what he’s doing right. “You are always early! That’s awesome and shows commitment.”
Watch and follow up. Sometimes the impatient volunteer needs a little more training. You might need to offer more training for volunteers.
For more tips about putting together a volunteer dream team, check out my video 10 Keys to Finding Good Volunteers.