Dale Note: I asked our friend Jerry Elder to write this piece because of his reputation and his knowledge of youth ministry coupled with his tremendous balance. Also because he is not a bitter man with an axe to grind but a loyal servant of the Lord who loves all of God's people. Feel free to drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that meeting with the elders and having them offer you the youth ministers job and the salary you would receive? You were elated, excited and ready to begin this work! The money you were receiving would take care of your wife and your needs! She wouldn't have to work and all will be great!
Then after a while life kicked in… all of those bills, student loans, health insurance, life insurance, car insurance and as an old song says there was “too much month at the end of the money”. And then there are the “events.” Events you are expected to be at - a volleyball game for one kid and basketball game one of the teen girls and another for one of the teen boys - at three different places -$15 to get in between the three and that without your wife - but parents seem to “expect” them to come sometimes too. It adds up. $30-40 just to get in to watch ballgames that are “work” - and if that happens 6 nights in a month we’re talking $1500-2000 a year just for that. You didn’t consider that when you were planning a budget because no one ever mentioned it to you. And, you want your own children. It’s all enough to drive a young man (family) crazy!
Do the other ministers have this problem? I mean they take nice vacations, drive cars with less than 150,000 miles (and they are paid for)! They talk about retirement plans, future plans with anticipation with no cares.
So you have that meeting with the minister! He is your friend, he shares with you his salary. Your heart sinks. He doesn't make a few more dollars than you…he make thousands more. He has a plan that takes care of his family, health insurance, life insurance, paid lectures and more. He is provided for properly.
Honestly, we hardly consider the salaries of the others around us. But you question, why is his position more valuable than mine.
That’s when emotion sets in! Jealousy, envy and even hurt set’s in. Here is one minister who has a little more, (ok a lot more) and you are crying balancing and bouncing the bills.
Okay, let’s be careful….
Let’s realistically look at some things.
You negotiated your agreement with the eldership. You knew what you were receiving, if it’s not enough go back to them and re-negotiate. Elderships, do yourself a favor and make sure that your ministers (all of them) are adequately provided and compensated. Ministers, (be honest).
All ministry jobs are not treated equally. It really doesn’t have much to do with the work as much as the experience. There are ministers that have worked for MANY years, maybe at several places (they started where you are). You are in your first work OR a few years into the ministry. Years do make a difference. Therefore salary might be different. (Remember this).
So how do I keep my emotions about this in check?
There is no room for jealousy. You are doing the Lord’s work! Work together, (by the way ministers) go to bat for that youth minister! We should not be in a salary competition that tears us away from our work! If you get a raise, ask if the others are!
Elder’s keep the trust factor high with your ministers! Let them know you care and are there for them! Help them to have peace of mind! Work with them, don’t rule over them!
Remember the purpose of your work! You may not retire with a pocket full of gold, but you will retire with souls of the faithful in a far better place!