It happens to the best of us. It happened to me yesterday. And if I’m honest maybe the past couple months. Any of these ring a bell with you – some have felt pretty familiar to me in my youth ministry experience!

  • getting paid less than equals
  • little to no website exposure
  • higher expectations of you than others
  • total absence in the bulletin
  • budget cuts … again
  • note getting credit
  • feeling invisible in your church
  • they still won’t let me hire an assistant
  • not getting enough resources
  • spouse expectations
  • we’re growing while the church is dying
  • the scape goat for everything
  • unsupported by the leadership

So we become martyrs. We resign ourselves that these feelings are the underpinning price of being faithful. That doing God’s work just isn’t fair and this is our lot in life. Crybaby. Pity party.

  • Take a few minutes and think about where you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Journal a few thoughts about your fair and unfair comparisons and the trap you have fallen into.
  • The blame game has no winners, only losers.
  • Confess where you are playing the martyr.  Martyrdom will always suck passion and create tension.
  • Believe you are not a victim. Victimization will only give you excuses instead of results.
  • You are not constantly suffering. You are actually alienating yourself from the leadership who is trying to do the best job that they can.

What would you add to either list?

JG

This week Doug, Matt, Josh, and Katie gather round the table to talk youth ministry and answer your questions. After Doug admits to liking podcast team members more than everyone else the real content begins. In a follow-up to last weeks discussion about finances and raises, there’s more encouragement for those in tough places (and Doug manages to put Josh on the spot again). The gang also talk about time management, spiritual maturity, eye patches, the Simply Youth Ministry Conference contest, working through drama with students, Matt’s love language, and everyone’s favorite show, Wipeout.

JG



Got a few emails and comments asking about vacation time for youth workers. I had mentioned in an earlier post that I am in the middle of taking 100 hours of vacation this month to be Mr. Mom as my wife enjoys an overseas mission trip to Africa. I’ve already posted about The Vacations We Take Each Year, and here are a few additional thoughts and ideas about vacation time:

  • VACATION TIME: We accumulate vacation time each work week at our church. Depending on how long you’ve served at the church, the faster you accumulate time off. For the typical employee you get two weeks of vacation, so roughly 1.6 hours per week worked (80 hours a year). You can “bank” up to two years of your annual amount of vacation time.
  • COMP TIME: Officially, there is no such thing as “comp time” at Saddleback. You’re expected to work 50 hours a week, and if you work more it doesn’t matter. Obviously, that makes things like camps or retreats a bit unrealistic, but such is life. As a supervisor myself, I may choose to me more lenient on my team and offer lighter schedules and be keenly aware of the temperature of my team. I don’t always get it right, but I try to be the understanding youth ministry boss that I haven’t always been privileged to have throughout my youth ministry career.
  • FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE: Forward-thinking companies like Netflix realize that in some environments work hours are messy and don’t fit into traditional banking hours. That comp time is impossible to track, and that people who don’t turn it off are better when they take longer more ambiguous stretches of time off. Interesting article in the Wall St. Journal – but don’t expect your church to understand this concept. I would make a guess that the person who is in charge of your office/work culture probably is a bit more traditional/straight-laced to take this big of a risk from the norm.
  • SPIRITUAL RETREAT DAY: Occasionally I’ll give my team a spiritual retreat day, an 8-hour day that are focused completely on personal spiritual development of their heart and to reconnect with God. We work hard, and the biggest shame of working hard would be to not work alongside with the Spirit’s leading. So no busy work or email is allowed, and everyone is asked to send a paragraph report on what God said to them. I should do this more often, if for my own heart than anything else.
  • CAMPS ARE NOT VACATION: Camps and retreats NEVER count as vacation. I read an “out of office” reply last week from a youth worker at camp and it said they were “on vacation” – don’t affirm that terrible stereotype that because you are away you are NOT on vacation. If this is present in your church culture, it is a fight worth fighting in my opinion.
  • CONFERENCE ALLOWANCE: Conferences also do not count as vacation time – our church gives me a couple days of free personal development time as well. I’ve worked in and heard of many others that wrap vacation/conferences into one to save money or because it does use vacation time. In this economy a raise is unlikely anyhow, so perhaps make the ask for a couple paid days away to grow in your expertise.
  • WHEN TO FIT IN VACATION: Late summer works best for me to take vacation time – the summer calendar starts to wain and the fall kickoff isn’t quite here yet. I like to think of it as the calm before the storm. Actually, I’m writing this post in the calm of some time away right now. Feels good. I should do this more often.
  • WHAT ABOUT YOUTH GROUP WHEN I’M AWAY: When I’m on vacation, I give the platform away to trusted voices and voices I want to develop. This block that I’m gone right now I’m having a few experienced and inexperienced voices in front of our students, I’m excited because this weekend a volunteer and his small group are teaching.

How does your church do vacation time? When was the last time you were on vacation? Any tips or tricks to share with the MTDB community?

JG

Great question came up on the podcast today – thought I would recap some of the answer to it here. How do you get a salary increase as a youth worker? With things as tight as ever, here are some thoughts about getting a bump in your salary:

GOOD – make the ask yourself
Sometimes, you just have to make the ask yourself. Don’t be afraid of a direct conversation about money, especially when there is a life stage change. Timing is everything, and make sure you’re prepared for the questions you may get in response. Have reasons why you need the raise, know the amount you’re asking for, and be prepared for the news that might go either way. Be careful not to threaten any action you aren’t willing to take, consider preparing a next steps plan based on the commitments you make to your family/lifestyle. Pray for God’s timing, humility and discernment about this critical conversation.

BETTER -find a champion
Perhaps a better way to ask for a raise is to find someone who believes in the youth ministry and what you are doing. A champion will work on your behalf to get the raise – consider a person in a position of authority like an elder or deacon in your church leadership. Honestly, this puts you in a much better light and prevents the image of you being money hungry. The more information they have, the better they can represent you. Prepare them with specific instances of how God has been moving in your group, maybe even a parent of one of your students would serve you well as a champion.

BEST – proactive leadership
The ideal situation is an environment where the church leadership is active in their team’s life and engaging in conversations about salary, reviews and compensation. This is a rare church environment – if you are a part of a ministry like this, be thankful!

Wonder how you’re doing compared to other youth workers? Click here for Group’s youth worker salary survey (2007).

JG