youth ministry, youth worker, unhappy

Leading the Unhappy

By Doug Franklin July 21, 2011

Her name was Karen and she was unhappy with me and the world. She was an adult placed on my volunteer team by my sr. pastor because she had a bad experience with a previous youth worker. The pastor thought that if she was placed on the team her past hurt would be healed. She thought the pastor had placed her there to make sure I never did anything wrong. She was a unhappy person and quickly she made me unhappy. She didn’t like her husband, she didn’t like the church and she didn’t like me. Needless to say, it was a difficult situation. For some reason unhappy people think they can come to church and be mean to others, and honestly, we don’t deal with them because the church is supposed to love people. When you are the leader you must deal with unhappy people. Here are three ideas to reach out to them:

1. Confront their behavior
This is often the step we miss. Most of the time we just want to get rid of them right away, so we look for ways to move them to another ministry. Please don’t do this; this unhappy person just becomes someone else’s problem. Confront them and share with them how their behavior is mean and devious. Offer to mentor them through the process of healing. Explain that they will need to apologize to people and ask for forgiveness. Coach them, care for them and walk with them through the process. If they don’t want to change, quickly move them out of the ministry. Ask adults in your ministry and in your church to help you with this process.

2. Form a team
A very unhappy person in a church can have lots of problems and they all need to be dealt with for healing to take place. The hurt may come from another area of the church than youth ministry. Form a team of people who have soft hearts to deal with the person. You may need to do an intervention (I am not kidding here). A team of people can be overwhelming, so be careful, but a team of people is hard to ignore.

3. Guard your heart
Chances are you have been wounded by this person. Don’t get mad or get even. I know you want to. Don’t gossip about this person and don’t think of ways to get back at them. Go quickly to step 1 and then step 2 because the longer you wait the worse it will be for your ministry and your heart.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More