A case for hiring an administrative assistant
The inbox is full.
The calendar is full.
The to-do list keeps growing; never shrinking.
Ministry is a joy, but when you’re in the trenches, the reality looks less like powerful preaching and potent pastoral care and more like responding to emails, organising meetings, chasing people, and trying to find the time to prepare well for those moments you find great joy – the gathering and the praying and the preaching and the fellowship!
You’re working hard, but you crave some good rest. You’ve heard that rest is vital for longevity in ministry, and you’ve heard those reminders that God commands us to rest. You miss slow mornings with those you love, where you have more than one cup of tea, you connect with your family and friends, and you feel your mind more drawn to being still in front of the Lord than hustling hard to get work done for Him.
Christopher Ash wrote in ‘Zeal Without Burnout’,
“When you and I surrendered to Jesus as Lord, we did not offer Him the services of a divine, or even semi-divine creature to strengthen His kingdom; we offer Him the fragile, temporary, mortal, frail life that He has first given to us. That is all we have to offer.”
You bring your skills & strengths to ministry, but you bring your frailty with it. Our frailty is a mark of this liminal space we exist in – the now, but not yet in which we are made complete in Christ, and yet dwell in our mortal bodies which require tender care and rest for their fragile condition.
Rest honours our bodies and minds. These created bodies of ours are called ‘jars of clay’ by Paul to acknowledge both their beauty and the way they break so easily. If we do not create space for rest, then we are at best working ineffectively, and at worst, on a path towards burnout. We cannot clench our fists and grit our teeth and hope to make it to retirement to rest. It is not the way we were made, and it is not a way to live.
If we do create space for rest that cares well for our bodies, our minds and relationships with those around us, we are cultivating a life that will sustain our joy and our productivity. It sounds whimsical, but consider this: our God gives us good gifts to enjoy that help us to glorify him – good relationships, good gatherings, good wine and good food – and this joy is not simply there to fuel productivity, but to grow our godliness as we learn to rely on Him all the more.
What if there was a way to create time for you to work more effectively, and rest more effectively?
Here’s one way to help create that space: when you’re thinking of your next hire, consider making space in your budget for an administrative assistant. When utilised well, an administrative assistant can take the admin burden off your plate in ten or less hours a week, depending on your needs, and allow you to focus on what matters most by managing communication, streamlining organisation and sharpening expectation.
Your e-mails are the first port of call for communications and can quickly become an overwhelming and time consuming part of your day that you can never quite clear from your to-do list. An administrative assistant will manage your communications so that you can see clearly what needs to be addressed within your inbox without sorting through the rest. They can unsubscribe you from the newsletter you forgot you agreed to receive from a random website, they can correspond with those who want to meet and set up a time, turn simple tasks into to-do list items and they can mark emails as urgent or as in need of a pastoral response.
You can create a system that works for you, and in doing so, turn your e-mails from a place of overwhelm to one small part of your day in which you are able to effectively connect & communicate with those you need to.
Perhaps, with the help of an administrative assistant, you might be able to check your emails a little later in the morning on a work day and tune out of them completely on your day off.
If you’ve ever sat down in front of a computer and tried to establish what is needed for a meeting to run effectively and how to put it together before that evening when the meeting happens, you’d benefit from the help of someone who can take your thoughts and turn them into an agenda to work through. If you’ve ever found that you need follow ups sent after that meeting and haven’t gotten around to them until the next week because time got away from you, then you’d benefit from someone who is able to see the priority without distraction of the other parts of the role.
There are so many small moments that a pastor organises within their work weeks and across a year that they can easily get lost and wind up being scheduled on days off or in already crowded weeks.
An administrative assistant is able to focus on what needs to happen organisationally so that you are following a schedule that is created proactively in consultation with you, rather than creating a schedule reactively and being pulled along by it. This leaves you space to work well, and to rest well.
With your communication managed and your organisation streamlined, you will be able to sharpen your expectations as you work out what matters most to you – is it pastoral meetings? Do you need help easing the preaching load? Do you need to focus on building your teams? What are the goals you want to meet personally, and as a church?
When you are not focused on the close-up view of your day-to-day work, you are able to see more of the bigger picture. You are able to pray big, dream big, and plan big. These big prayers, dreams and plans help craft those expectations without compromising on rest.
The inbox is managed.
The calendar is full of moments that matter – both work and rest.
The to-do list grows and shrinks, constantly in flux as you work through it.
Perhaps, a personal assistant is part of your path to a sustainable ministry career. They are not the ‘magic bullet’, but they can be a powerful partner as you seek to live as a faithful disciple of Jesus and minister of the gospel.
If you're considering hiring an administrative assistant, contact us to discuss how we may be able to help you.