NASHVILLE — Pastors, here is a leadership question for you. Do you know what your ministry assistant wishes you knew?
Honestly, have you ever asked?
Lana Rose knows. Ministry assistants have told her.
Rose is the secretaries ministries specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
She regularly works with ministry assistants across Tennessee and serves as a consultant, confidante and friend for many others across the country.
In addition to her role as secretaries ministries specialist, Rose also serves as ministers wives specialist and VBS specialist for the convention. She can understand the situation of the women who wear several hats in their professional lives.
“In Tennessee, most churches have fewer than 200 members,” Rose said.
“These churches usually have one ministry assistant and maybe one financial secretary. So, these ministry assistants have a lot of work to do.”
She said, “A high majority of them have a sense of calling just like a pastor or other minister. For a lot of them, it’s that calling that keeps them there despite the typically low pay and long hours. Respect, appreciation and common courtesy go a long way in helping an MA feel affirmed in the work.”
When Rose asked the MAs on her e-mail list what they wish their pastors knew, dozens of responses came quickly. Following are examples of the replies.
They seemed to fall into three categories: professional, personal and personality.
• I would like to attend training so I can be better at my job and form some professional relationships with other ministry assistants.
• I would like for him to understand I have a unique job as an MA. I came out of the secular world where I made more money because this is a calling for me.
• I could be a wealth of information to him. I often stand in the gap between him and the church members, so I have knowledge that could be helpful if he would just ask.
• I would like to be reimbursed when I use my own car and cell phone for church business.
• I would like for the church staff to have a retreat time where we can chill out and talk about our issues and dreams for the church without the distraction of everyday duties.
• I would like for him to go to bat for me on salary and benefit issues. I deserve to make a livable wage.
• I want to be acknowledged for my professional skills. I am skilled in computer software, financial software, graphic design, plus I have exceptional interpersonal and relational skills that I use with church members and church staff members.
• I want him to know that I pray for him and his family by name every day.
• I want to have the freedom to come to him and appropriately share struggles within the church family. He doesn’t always know what is going on.
• I want to be kept in the loop. If he gets a call about a celebration, a sickness or especially a death in the church family, I need to know.
• I appreciate it when he talks positively about me in front of church members and other church staff members. If they see that he values me, they will value me as well.
• I am intensely loyal to him and our church. I stand up for him when others criticize him.
• I have learned how to discreetly deal with people who are monopolizing his time. When his door is open, I know the conversation is not private, so after so long a time, I can politely interrupt and let him and his guest know he has something else to attend to.
• I hope he knows that most of the church members just want to love on his family without ulterior motives.
• I would like to be kept informed about his schedule. I realize he doesn’t need to tell me everywhere he goes, but it would help if I knew when he would be in the office in case someone wanted to talk with him.
• I wish he would say “good morning” to me when he comes in each day. It hurts my feelings when he just passes my desk without even looking at me or saying hello.
• I wish he were interested in my family and me. He’s busy, but being interested in me personally would be encouraging.
• I wish he would be more in tune with the church members: their struggles and their health issues. That really matters. I hear about it when they think he doesn’t care.
• I wish he could take a hint!
• I love it — and so do the church members — when he is “real” and down to earth with all of us.
• I’d like it if he realized that not everything is a big deal.
• I’d like to see him visit with church members more, especially the homebound. It means so much to them to have the pastor drop by for even a few minutes.
• I want him to understand that no matter how much education he has, how well he preaches or how many professional connections he can claim, people mostly just care about how much he loves them.
• I wish he would take his time off and spend some quality time with his family.
• I want him to set aside time to pray. If the pastor is a prayer warrior, the entire church benefits.
Rose serves as a LifeWay ministry multiplier and will lead the LifeWay-sponsored Ministry Assistant Training event set for July 24-26 at the TBC office in Brentwood.
Registration for the full three-day event is $145.
Contact Rose at email@example.com or (800) 558-2090 or (615) 371-2008 for more information about the conference.