If you’ve read our analysis of the 2023 Youth Pastor Compensation Report, then you already know the #1 way most ministry leaders move up the pay scale is to switch jobs.
Quitting your job for a pay raise is a choice.
But it’s one we hope you don’t have to take.
Data explaining The Great Resignation shows job changes often lead to better pay, more flexibility, greater benefits, opportunities for advancement, and an overall easier time balancing work responsibilities and life living.
My question is this:
Do you have to quit to get it?
Each of us has an ‘it’ that goes beyond purpose or call. It was very clear to me early in life that I loved working with kids and I had a knack for connection and teaching. Those three characteristics alone opened up a world of possibilities. Should I be a doctor? Pastor? Teacher? Counselor?
But, you already know, beyond the heart of why we do what we do is the how. And caring for kids from a cubicle, with rigid office hours, dodgy health options, and pay that doesn’t allow much of a life outside of work, this is the “how” that many ministry leaders face.
So finding another avenue to live out my purpose just makes sense, right?
What we all need to do is identify our “its”. So, what are those elements of employment that help us thrive vs. simply survive? (vs. resign)
What’s your it?
Our team has put together a thoughtful list of reasons to stay or go. If one of the “go” reasons is your deal-breaking current reality, a resignation is probably right for you. After acknowledging that truth, please read this resource as you plan to transition and, then, consider inviting a coach, spiritual director, or therapist to walk with you through this next season. (I can help connect you.)
But if your current reality is more of a difficult situation than a dealbreaker, let’s see if we can salvage your situation.
it #1: The Pace of Work
REALITY: You’re exhausted.
RESPONSE: Do you need a break? Or do you need to break up with unhealthy habits?
REMEDIES: You might just need a work-free weekend, week, or multi-week sabbatical. Have you had those conversations with your supervisor? What do you need to do to get some time away and really reset and return refreshed? OR you might need to reassess how your time is spent on the daily. Check out our rhythmic week and let’s connect to talk through the healthiest ways for your work to get done.
it #2: Healthy Relationships
REALITY: Your feelings have been hurt.
RESPONSE: Does the other person know? Is the relationship repairable? Is reconciliation possible?
REMEDIES: You might need to Matthew 18 a conversation and truly consider if you can continue working with a person. Is this a heart issue that’s hard and unyielding? Is this a humility issue that’s hindered by pride? Or is this an issue where grace and forgiveness are needed? Quitting ≠ fixed feelings.
it #3: The Expectations of Work
REALITY: You haven’t been able to accomplish all your goals.
RESPONSE: Are the goals truly accomplishable with the time frame, team, and type of environment you’re in? What are the hurdles: people, process, proficiency, or power?
REMEDIES: Your ability to identify what’s standing in your way requires an honest look at the system in which you’re being asked to accomplish the goals, the raw materials you have to work with, and – and this is the toughest – your capabilities. Invite a small set of trusted, wise voices – who know you and understand your work – to answer these four questions about both you and your ministry:
- What’s going well and needs to continue?
- What’s not working and needs to stop?
- What’s lacking but has potential and needs help?
- What’s missing and needs to be started?
it #4: Personal Problems
REALITY: You are lonely.
RESPONSE: I’m so sorry. Truly. There are questions to ask and answer for this, too, but the experience of loneliness is further isolating and discouraging when we’re in churches and often surrounded by others. More and more research is being done to analyze the devastating effects of loneliness on health and longevity – and the data is alarming. I’m not with you right now as you read this – but, I see you. And we should talk.
REMEDIES: Say words. Is there anyone you’re connected to in your church, neighborhood, gym, family, former life? You don’t need a fixer; you need a friend. And people don’t know what they don’t know. If you’re good at putting on a face in public (like so many of us in ministry are), why would anyone reach out or worry? Please say words and let someone know you’d love a dinner buddy, a putt-putt golf pal, a road trip co-planner, a person or two to be around who actually wants to be around. (And, hey… people DO want to be around you.) Quitting might exacerbate your loneliness or it might give you space to work on you. But, please, say words out loud before you decide to resign.
it #5: The Interpersonal Dynamics of Work
REALITY: Your boss is extremely difficult.
RESPONSE: What are the difficulties? Is it a personality conflict that won’t be helped through conversation? Are there impossible demands? Is your boss distant or absent? Does your boss intentionally hinder your ability to do your job? Or is your boss harmful to your well-being or growth?
REMEDIES: You need to identify what you’re looking for in a boss. Do you have expectations that your boss be a mentor, a friend, or someone who simply lets you lead?
Then, identify what kind of leader your boss is. Write down the characteristics of what you need in a boss to survive vs. thrive and compare that list with the list of what you’ve experienced with your boss.
A different tension might exist if you’ve experienced your boss interacting with others on the team in ways they don’t interact with you. If this is the case, there’s an opportunity for conversation. If they’re just not a fit for the type of leadership you need to flourish, though, a change may be in order.
it #6: Team Structure
REALITY: You struggle to find volunteers.
RESPONSE: This is one of the top 3 tensions we hear most often from ministry leaders. So then we ask:
- Are you struggling because everyone else is already serving somewhere else?
- Do you struggle to make the asks and invite new team members to join the ministry?
- Are there people equipped or excited about the ministry you lead – or is this an opportunity for new training, storytelling, or communication?
REMEDIES: Take our Volunteer Inventory. This will help you know if your best next step is a personal coach, a cohort to learn new strategies, or cultural shift for your whole church. I can assure you if you don’t pinpoint the source of your volunteer vacuum, and you quit and move onto another place, a solution will still be needed.
Still not sure whether you should stay or go? Then maybe answering this one question will help: What does it look like for you to be content in your job? If this is possible, really possible, where you already are, why would you leave?
It’s not mine nor anyone else’s job to talk you into a job. Through prayerful discernment, honest answers to thoughtful questions, and intentional discussions with those you trust, you’ll figure out what to do. And if our team of experienced ministry leaders can be a part of helping you think it all through? We’d love to talk!
Post-note: If you’re a staff leader who’s worried your team is thinking about quitting, check out these resources and let’s talk.
- Strategies for Staff Retention by Brandi Kirkland
- How to Support the Bi-Vocational Pastor by Jeff Cochran
- Beyond Onboarding by Rob Dyer