So You Want a Raise? 4 Ways to Get There

Youth Specialties
May 12th, 2016

First the bad news: it probably won’t happen.

And this isn’t because the church hates you or is being unfair to you or your family. When you were hired to do this job, you were offered a compensation package, which you accepted. If you’re not happy with this, when you move on and move up, make sure that you negotiate a compensation package that will allow you to stay for the duration.

For now, let’s assume that you want to stay in your current context and that you would like a raise. Here are four things you need to do to get there:

  1. Start the conversation today.

Churches are very slow. A budget gets discussed four to six months before the congregation sees it and votes on it. Long before it even gets to the board, there are the power players who try to get their heads around finances and long-term goals and find those places of intersection. That means if you want your raise to even be considered, you need a 12-month on-ramp. In reality, you’re probably looking at 18 months. That’s longer than some tenures. Start talking today to your supervisor about your expectations and desires. If you keep it bottled up, you’ll become bitter, and by the time you say something, you won’t be able to last 18 more months.

  1. Be a value add.

You were hired to do a job, and the church decided that job is worth a certain amount. There’s a cap the church is willing to pay for a high school pastor. (Don’t be bitter—this is how the rest of the world works, too.) So don’t “just” be the high school pastor. Be a team player, and look for the holes in your church you might be able to fill. Web? Tech? Intern program? Where can you use your gifts and talents to bless the church and add to your job description? Have candid conversations about this with your supervisor. Or maybe your job description already changed and the compensation didn’t follow. Again, this is a great conversation to have with your supervisor.

  1. Keep working hard.

After a year or two, you probably settled into a rhythm that works. What used to take you ten hours now takes two—what once took two hours you can now do on your drive to church. Most youth workers I know (including me) haven’t leveraged the increased flexibility in their work hours. After two years, you should have an extra ten to fifteen hours a week you didn’t have when you started. Many youth workers use that time to watch YouTube, run errands, blog, post on Facebook—stuff that doesn’t produce for your church. Your supervisor sees this. You don’t get to ask for more money and then increase your work. Work hard to kill it and keep killing it—then your supervisor will work hard to find ways to keep you.

  1. Be a blessing.

As a supervisor, I want to keep people on my team who help me do my job better, who encourage me, who work hard, and are a valuable part of my team. If you only see your job as your job description, then you’ll be forever stuck at the entry level of your position. If you see yourself as a blessing to your team—especially to your supervisor—then your supervisor will work hard to keep you around. Finding good employees is actually really hard, so when supervisors find good ones, they’ll work hard to keep them. Being a blessing means putting up with your team’s idiosyncrasies, their odd work hours, and their families. Being a blessing means getting behind their unique passions and perspectives of ministry. And being a blessing means helping your team move the ball forward—not just covering your portion of the ministry field. Be someone your supervisor can’t live without, and they’ll find a way to keep you around.

Good luck, my faithful youth worker friends. Please be reflective so you can know your own heart. Trying to serve well while suppressing your angst isn’t okay. I know you took your job because you felt this was the place God was calling you. But now you need to own that maybe God is calling you to move on, maybe God is maturing you in your professional development, or maybe it’s something else. In order to move forward, you must be reflective and know what God is up to in you.

As you navigate these delicate waters, may God protect your heart and the heart of your spouse, and may you continue to be faithful to the unique and amazing calling God has put on you to be a vocational youth worker.

benkearnsAfter almost two decades of student ministry, Ben’s heart still beats and breaks for students. Loving students and helping them love Jesus have been the foundational principles around which he has organized his life and ministry. While his job description has transformed over the years, he is still most passionate about investing in the student ministry at MARIN COVENANT CHURCH. Follow him on twitter at @AVERAGEYM.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.