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Last week Group published their annual salary survey results for youth workers across the country. Don’t worry, they made sure that Kurt “money-bags” Johnston wasn’t included because it would have skewed things a lot higher (Josh, “I’m a little bitter” Griffin wrote that intro). The truth of the matter is most youth workers who are fortunate enough to get paid probably don’t get paid enough. And as a result, at some point you may feel the time has come to ask for a raise. Here are some thoughts on the subject:

Pray
It all starts with prayer. Take your requests to God and ask Him for guidance in what to say and how to prepare. It would be unwise to go into this challenging environment without having talked to God over a significant period of time. Ask Him for contentment no matter what the outcome. And while praying, ask God (and be okay with his answer) if your timing and motives are appropriate.

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Get your facts straight
If you’re going to talk numbers, it is beyond important to make sure your numbers match up. What is average household income in your area? What do other youth workers in similar settings earn? On what merits does your church grant pay increases, and how are you meeting those?

Prep a few critical people
Be prepared for this meeting and take the time to prepare a few others, too! Chances are there is some sort of budget chairman or someone who acts as a treasurer or CFO in your church. Speak with them ahead of time to get an idea of the budget climate you’re heading into and give them a heads up on your plan. Having a few champions around the table can’t be a bad thing. And, “floating” the idea past an insider beforehand can be a great place to practice your presentation…and a great place to hear a potential voice of reason ahead of time.

Present the need
A great time to ask for a raise is when your lifestyle changes. Show them the needs of your growing family. Help them see the gap between what you make and what you need to make it work.

Show the opportunity
Connect the request to longevity. Offer a commitment of time if they give you a commitment of money. Show them what the future holds in your ministry and what you believe God will do.

Serve like you’re getting paid millions
Did you get the raise? No? It doesn’t matter. Drop the subject of money and give it over to God in your prayer time for this next season. Is He helping you prepare for a new direction? Is He teaching you contentment?

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This isn’t going to be easy … so be strong and most importantly, be faithful.

NOTE: In complete honesty, this article was very difficult for us to write together. Kurt has never asked for a raise, and feels like God has blessed his family because of it. Josh has asked for a few raises during his youth ministry career and feels like God has blessed him for his willingness to put family first and make sure their needs are always met. Which is the best approach? It isn’t the approach that is “right” or “wrong”, but the attitude of our hearts.
 

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