October 4, 2022

I know you never have to deal with negative people at your   church--right?

 Unfortunately, many church leaders are familiar with the   challenge of dealing with a team member who has a negative spirit. It   can mean death to a team so it's an issue that needs attention before it gets   out of hand. As Proverbs 17:22 reminds us, "A cheerful heart is good   medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones".

Here are some simple steps to transform negative behavior:

Identify the negativity.

Negativity comes in many forms.  In addition to   complaining, some negative people will display an attitude of pessimism,   doubt, mistrust, or sarcasm. Often negativity will be acted out as critical   behavior towards people or programs. At this stage you'll need to figure out   what may be the cause, or source, of the negative attitude. Reasons for   negative behavior may include being overextended in volunteer   responsibilities, doubt about a staff leader's ability, feeling unchallenged,   or even insufficient recognition. Set aside time to connect with your team   member, in private, and listen for clues that might identify a reason. Use   reflective listening and feedback to see if you can identify the source, and   then work on some action steps toward a solution. Negativity may be caused by   some legitimate concerns or issues that you'll want to address.

Contain the negativity.

It's important to contain your volunteer’s negative attitude so   it won't spread to the rest of the team. I was part of a ministry team where   a negative leader was so damaging the only solution was to disband the group   and start over! Don't allow negative leaders to control a group. This may   involve removing someone from their leadership in order to change the group's   tone. This is where a team covenant, or agreement, can come in handy. A   covenant spells out the ground rules of how your team will work together. A   discipleship pastor recently showed me his core team's covenant which states   their purpose: To maintain a positive attitude of joy and to enjoy the   opportunity to serve together.  If you don't have a covenant--now is   the time to write one!

Establish a positive vision.

Here's where your leadership is vital. They say a smile is   contagious--so is a positive vision. Set the tone with your own positive   behavior and affirm the positive attitude of your volunteers. In his book,   "Managing Workplace Negativity", Gary S. Topchik reports that 90%   of employees want leaders to notice their efforts and recognize them.   Volunteers also want the positive reinforcement that they matter to you, the   church, and God. Recast the vision to your volunteers and communicate the   blessings that result from their efforts. Be the cheerleader to keep everyone   on the right track as you face the challenges. Celebrate your successes and   rejoice in the positive changes the ministry is making in the lives of   others.

Our attitude is the one thing we can change about   ourselves. Help your volunteers improve their outlook and you'll retain their   service longer and grow a stronger ministry!

Written by: Bob D'Ambrosio

Bob is a   25-year veteran of church ministry and now serves on Group's Church   Leadership team. He's the training director for the Equipping Institute,   online editor for CVDaily, and part of the product development team. He   recently coauthored and edited the newly released E4:12 Bible Study Series.   Bob and his wife are discovering the joys of empty nest-hood.

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