Want a raise? Here are 4 ways to get there.

First the bad news, it probably wont happen.  And this isn't because the church hates you or is being unfair to you or your family.  You were hired to do a job, and offered a compensation package.  You accepted this fate.  :)  So, next time, when you move on and move up, make sure that you negotiate a compensation package that will allow you to say for the duration without allowing bitterness and rage seep in.  

But for now, lets assume that you want to stick around a while longer in your current context and would like a raise as well, then here are 4 things that you need to do to get there.

1)  START THE CONVERSATION TODAY:  Churches are so very slow.  A budget gets discussed 4-6 months before the congregation even sees it and votes on it.  And before it even gets to the board, there are the "power players" who have been trying to get their head around the finances and long term goals and finding those places of intersection long before that.  That means, that if you want it to even be a consideration, you need a 12 month on ramp.  If you want it to even be a reality, you are looking at 18 months.  That is longer than some tenures.  So, start talking to your supervisor today about your expectations and desires.  By keeping it in will only make you bitter and harden your heart, and by the time you say something, you won't be able to last 18 more months.   

2) BE A VALUE ADD: Another awful truth is that you were hired to do a job, and the church has decided that what you do is worth a certain amount.  There is a cap that the church is willing to pay for a "high school pastor."  Don't be bitter, this is how the rest of the world works as well.  So the trick, is to not just be the "high school pastor."  Be a team player and and see the holes in your church where you can fill in.  Web? Tech? Intern program?  Where can you use your gifts and talents to bless the church and add to your job description.  Have these candid conversations with your supervisor.  Maybe your job description has already changed and the compensation didn't follow.  Again, great conversation to have with your supervisor.  

3)  KEEP WORKING HARD:  After just a year or two, you have settled into a rhythm that works.  What used to take you 10 hours, now takes 2, what used to take you 2 hours, you can do on your drive to church.  Most youth workers I know, including myself have not leveraged the increased flexibility in my work hours.  After 2 years you should have an extra 10-15 hours a week that you didn't have when you started.  Most youth workers use that time to watch youtube, "run errands," child care, blog, Facebook, you name it.  Stuff that doesn't produce for your church.  Your supervisor sees this.  You don't get to ask for more money and then have your work follow.  Rather you work hard and kill it, and keep killing it, then your supervisor will work hard to find ways to keep you.  

4) 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 work hard as part of my team.  If you only see your job as your job description, then you will be forever stuck at your entry level position.  If you see yourself as a blessing to your team, especially your supervisor, then your supervisor will work hard to keep you around.  Finding good employees is actually really hard, so when we find good ones, we will work hard to keep them.  Being a blessing means putting up with their idiocracies, their odd work hours, and their family.  Being a blessing is getting behind their unique passions and perspective of ministry.  And being a blessing is about helping your team move the ball forward, not just your slice of the ministry pie.  Be someone your supervisor can't live with out, and they will find a way to not live with out you.

Good luck my faithful youth worker friends as you try to navigate these delicate waters.  Please, please, please be reflective and know your own heart.  Being a good soldier, or servant as you suppress your angst, is actually not ok.  I know you took your job because you felt like this was the place God was calling you.  But now you need to own that maybe this is a gentle nudge that God is calling you to move on, maybe it is God maturing you in your professional development, or maybe something all together.  But you MUST be reflective and know what God is up to in you so you can move forward.  

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