Super-bug viruses are powerful and deadly. Doctors are frantically trying to keep up with how it spreads, where it is spreading, and it’s make up to come up with a shot that will counteract it. Equally as powerful and deadly is the super bug called Negativity and it can take team out quick.
Let’s start with a preventative first step: Don’t Recruit Sick People.
When I recruit leaders for our team I check for symptoms of the super bug. I look for sniffles or the occasional cough through simply watching the potential volunteers life. I ask other ministry leaders whether this volunteer has ever been “sick” with negativity. I ask my Pastor if they have ever had problems with the person I am recruiting. If we recruit without doing a “healthy spirit” check, the negativity super bug may be lurking and you team will have an outbreak. Never recruit out of crises. Pray through the process and choose the healthiest people.
Second, Watch those who are prone to the negativity virus.
In the virus world, doctors say the most vulnerable people are the very young and the very old. I think this principle has some validity in the team work world as well.
The Apostle Paul recommends some guidelines for deacons and would be a good rule of thumb for those who would oversee the lives of kids. One of those guidelines says,
New converts bring energy and excitement to any ministry team, but their ministry life and their personal life are running parallel. If a difficult challenge hits them in their personal life, it will bleed into their ministry life. I had this happen with one volunteer and I had to ask him to step back and he eventually left the church, which was a negative for the whole team.
The second group susceptible to negative virus are “older people”. These folks have a wealth of experience and that is both a blessing a curse. It’s a blessing because they can spot our blind spots, but hat also means they judge everything by the way they have done it before. If we are not meeting a previous standard or a standard they hold, that can lead to a negativity outbreak.
I am not saying you should not let these people on your team. I am saying these are types of people that could could be prone to the virus. Anyone can carry the virus, students, parents, etc. but we are like the CDC of our youth ministry, determining the risk factors for healthy ministry.
The last step would be to Detect and Protect
I cannot let negative talk run rampant or the whole team or group could catch it. If I hear or witness some negative talk or behavior patterns I am quick to detect and protect. If I detect it I will usually have a conversation with the person quickly to isolate the bug. I try to treat it with “antibiotics” such as as listening to the complaint, confirming what the person is saying, and then try to work on a solution with that person. If that does not work I do my best to protect the rest of the group by switching the persons responsibilities from hands on to hands off. If they are a small group leader I may ask them to take a break or ask them to serve in a different capacity. If the bug persists, I move into full quarantine mode and remove the person from any leadership or ministry position.
Has your team ever been affected with the negativity virus? How did you deal with it?