When to Fire a Volunteer

On the old TV show The Apprentice, Donald Trump had a catch phrase now known by millions – “You’re Fired.”

One of the hardest things to do in life is acknowledge that a relationship is not working.  We were created for interaction and connection with others.   Whether you are ending a dating relationship, a friendship or a work/business relationship – there are times when it becomes obvious that the relationship is no longer healthy and it needs to come to an end.

Not every volunteer is a good fit on the team.  We as leaders must express gratitude and grace when working with people who are giving time to invest in our team.  However, the fact that someone is giving their time does not mean they should stay on the team no matter the circumstances.

Choosing to “fire” a volunteer is something that should be prayed through and avoided if at all possible. Yes I know they are not paid employees – but in rare occasions it becomes necessary to remove someone from a team.

In my time working with volunteers I have identified 3 main reasons I would consider firing a volunteer:

They Create a Toxic Culture – The health and success of a team is tied to its culture.  Leaders must fight to create and protect culture on a team.  The strength of a team is its unity, one of the greatest dangers to a team is a person who cultivate division and disunity. (click to tweet)  In rare occasions this occurs because of an intentional decision by a volunteer to try and create factions or problems.  More often than not a person creates a toxic culture because they are simply unhealthy.

They are Unable to Submit to Authority – God uses positions of authority to help ensure people are cared for and team goals are met.  The effectiveness of a team is in jeopardy when a person is unwilling to submit to the leader.  The opening of Romans chapter 13 is an encouragement from Paul to submit to authority, because God has put them in place.  If a person is unable to submit to the leader, the team is probably not the right environment for them to serve. (click to tweet)

They Reject Team Growth – No team stays the same forever.  Being involved on a volunteer team means being prepared to build new relationships and welcome new people into the mix.  Change is never easy, but it is essential if you want your team to be strong in the long run.  A person who rejects team growth puts his or her own comfort above the cause. (click to tweet) Healthy teams grow, and when a person fights against growth they are putting team health in danger.

Firing a volunteer is never easy, and is an absolute last resort on any team.  The best chance for growth and transformation for each individual should be found by their inclusion on your team.  However in rare occasions releasing a volunteer is the right decision.  My next post will give some practical thoughts about how you release a volunteer from a team.


3 thoughts on “When to Fire a Volunteer

  1. Thanks for this really good article. I look forward to receiving your advice how to fire a volunteer which is never easy I the church or Christian organisations.


  2. Great piece! It’s a subject that the church doesn’t like to acknowledge. However, for the church to be the body of Christ, all should be serving according to their strengths and fit. Having been in a leadership position in which firing was necessary, it is helpful to refer to your article as a reference. It’s concise and truthful. The Church needs to see this action as an act of love-for the person involved and for the unity and integrity of the congregation.


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