Just a Church Secretary? Ouch!

Administrative Professionals Day & Church SecretariesIn the U.S. we have a holiday, Administrative Professionals Day, in which we try to let those who do clerical type of work know that they are appreciated. One day, however, will not stress the importance of those in the church who serve in this capacity. Pastors and other ministry leaders need to treat the church secretary, or administrative assistant, as vital every day because they truly are important to the work of God through His Church.

Let’s not get the attitude that they are “just a church secretary” and contribute to feelings of inferiority. After all, they aren’t the pastor or ministry leader, one might think. They don’t have an upfront ministry but merely do behind the scenes work, one might reason.

People who do clerical work often have the spiritual gift of helps and/or service both of which typically are used in behind-the-scenes ministry. To think this makes them less needed? Ouch!

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Cor. 12:21)

People who do clerical work often are not upfront leaders. They might hold what could be considered a “lesser” position than a church pastor or ministry leader. To think that makes them less important? Ouch!

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. (1 Cor. 12:22-23)

Church secretaries, administrative assistants — anyone doing clerical type of work or assisting church leadership, tend to keep leaders on track, coordinate so much of the ministry in the church, and serve as the first contact of people who call in or stop by the church for help.

  • Many pastors would feel lost without this servant. Often this person makes leaders look better than they really are and rarely get the credit.
  • Many ministries would be disorganized and floundering without this help. Often people do not stop to think about why things run so efficiently.
  • Many people would not have a good first impression if someone wasn’t there to warmly greet and connect them to the help they need. Often we don’t think of how important that is to outsiders.

Are you in this role saying you are “just a Church Secretary”? No way! You are needed, important … indispensable! You might not be told that enough but if faithfully serving, what God thinks of you is what truly matters!

Are you a pastor or ministry leader benefiting from their services with the attitude that they are “just a church secretary”? If so, you need an attitude adjustment! Revisit 1 Corinthians 12 to see this person through God’s eyes and then start showing them more respect, appreciation, and affirmation.

Are you a church member who rarely thinks about how vital behind-the-scenes workers are in God’s work? Maybe it is time to send them a thank you note or better yet express your gratitude in tangible ways now and throughout the year.

11 Replies to “Just a Church Secretary? Ouch!”

  1. Sounds like the workplace. It’s life. Maybe church secretaries are just being too sensitive.

    • Yes, Betsy, unfortunately this perception does exist in the church as well as in the workplace. Ultimately anyone serving the Lord must find their worth in Him and not be controlled by the opinions of others but the reality is that most people want to feel like what they do matters to the people around them. And, God does tell us to “acknowledge those who work hard among you” (1 Thess. 5:12).

        • In God’s eyes, they do matter. But people, even Christian people, don’t always treat others in ways that communicate importance which can hurt and make a person feel like what he/she does is insignificant. Right or wrong, it’s the reality of our human existance to want to feel appreciated and like we matter to the people around us. The bottom line, though, is that we do need to learn more and more to find our significance in Christ and who we are in Him, not what we do and how others treat us. A good book to help us with that is Search for Significance. (If you click on that link it will take you to one of our affiliate stores where you can learn more about the book).

        • Got part about finding significance in Christ but on rest of what you said do you mean church leaders purposefully diss their secretaries?

          • I would think they rarely intend to show disregard to their secretaries. It can happen in subtle or sub-conscious ways. But, whether intended or not, it can be hurtful. Let me give just one example. Church leaders might ignore the opinions of their assistants which could communicate disregard. Think about it. Church secretaries, or administrative assistants, generally have a lot of knowledge about what is going on in the church. If their opinions are treated as insignificant, it is so easy to translate that into feeling like they don’t matter … and by the way, leaders could be missing out on some critical input.

            You see, showing appreciation isn’t a matter of mere words or a once a year expression by giving them flowers or some other token of appreciation on Administrative Professionals Day. It is shown by listening to what they have to say, even asking for their opinions, respecting their time, and the like, as well as acknowledging their contribution.

  2. I feel like “just a church secretary” when I see the custodian catered to right and left. The personnel committee has jumped through hoops to please this woman, giving her the exact salary she asked for (which is exactly what I make after being at the church several years). They gave her a paid 5 day vacation after being there three months, another 3 day paid vacation two months later. I had to wait six months for a week’s paid vacation. They let her pick and choose her own hours. Like me, she is an hourly employee. She gets a full week’s pay regardless of how many hours she works. I, however, have to work a full week to get a full week’s pay. Something is really wrong with this picture.

    • Hi Marci. In a situation like you wrote about, which seems so unfair, it is hard not to compare and sense the injustice. Sometimes there are particulars we are not aware of that go into these kinds of decisions but sometimes it is just politics. It can be hard to keep perspective. If left unchecked, these feelings will only fester and eventually could boil over in unhealthy ways. Let me suggest that you pray about whom you might talk with in leadership to express your grievances before that happens. Being a church secretary is a job for you but it also is ministry. If this remains unresolved in your heart, the ministry aspect will dissipate more and more. Perhaps this article can help with perspective: Ministry Isn’t Always Fair Keep in mind that in talking with leadership, you might not like what is said. How would God have you respond in that case? I will stop to pray for you that you handle this with God’s wisdom and understanding.

  3. This was an excellent article and needed to be voiced. Working in ministry does not negate the fact that there are always areas of improvement. Church secretaries assist greatly in helping the church function efficiently and effectively. Thanks for this eye-opener.

    • You are welcome, Krystal. Yes, there are always areas of improvement for us as the Church. Praise God, we have His wisdom and power to change as needed.