8 Tips to Be a Productive Secretary

How to Give Great Support to Those You Support—Part 2

In a ministry office, it can be a spiritual war zone. Between counseling and needs of people you must be Spirit-filled and prayed up. Be prayed up! (I believe the devil will fight harder in ministry work than he will at the bank down the street.)

You can set the temperature in your office. Make sure it is bright and conducive to spiritual growth. Bloom where you are planted and be the best support you can be to the one you are supporting.

With that in mind, here are eight tips to help those you work with.

1. Delegate

I don’t mean hand off all your work. First, prioritize your tasks into two lists: the tasks only you can do and the tasks you can ask someone else to do. Then you can find other staff or volunteers who can help with the projects.

There are three ways to get things done:

1. Do it yourself
2. Ask someone else to do it
3. Ask your kids not to do it :)

2. Think Smart

There are good people in our churches who want to help and serve. Let them. Maybe you are not allowing volunteers to serve because you’re lazy (you don’t want to bother lining someone up) or maybe it is because you want to be a martyr. One thing is certain, to quote Dr. Paul Chappell, “A staff run church is a staff ruined church.” Here are just a few areas that volunteers can serve in:

  • Stuffing letters
  • Stuffing bulletins
  • Making mass phone calls (type out exactly what they should say ahead of time)
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Cleaning
  • Preparing refreshments for a deacons meeting 
  • Running errands

There are secretaries who think and those who don’t. If it’s Thanksgiving weekend, maybe you should run that flyer on orange paper instead of Christmas red!

Develop a routine and execute it. Of course, blessed are the flexible! My “plans for the day” often go right out the window, but that’s absolutely fine.

Don’t be so set in your ways that you don’t think outside the box and strive for “the best way” to do things!

  • Take care of what needs to be done—prioritize.
  • Show initiative, even if it’s not your job.

We have a saying around Lancaster Baptist Church, See the need and take the lead! If you see that a light bulb is out, do something about it. Change it or get it changed.

3. Keep Good Records

Don’t trust your memory. Keep a log for:

  • Items to order
  • Mailings with enclosures
  • Gifts or giveaways
  • Phone calls

My pastor will sometimes ask me, “Did we send such and such to so and so last week?” During a busy season, last week might as well be six months ago. I have learned not to trust my memory, so I make notes on nearly everything.

Do your best with what you have. Just because you don’t have the latest equipment, etc., does not give you an excuse not to be organized or productive. If you will not be productive with the tools you have now, you will probably not be productive with nicer and newer tools.

Be inquisitive and “in the know” about what you need to know. Know who, what, when, where, and how about everything going on in your office. When you take a phone message, ask…. “May I tell him what this is in regards to?” Get as much specific information as you can—dates, location, theme of a meeting, etc.

4. Anticipate

Present solutions for problems, and do not be as interested in assigning blame as you are in finding solutions to problems.

Don’t say, “The copier is broken. What are we going to do?” Rather, “The copier is broken. I called the printer and they can print our bulletin for $20.”

Don’t say, “Who do you want to pick up so and so from the airport?” Give suggestions. Don’t make your boss do all the thinking for you.

5. Think Big—Be Wise

If you are preparing a luncheon for an event, think big, but be wise. You don’t want three empty tables. That will look bad. You want the room to look full. Though people commit to come, they often don’t all show up.

If you get knocked down, be prepared to bounce back immediately. Don’t sulk, or pout, or give up, or quit! Treat your mistakes as opportunities for growth. What’s done is done. Don’t dwell on the past. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

6. Obey Every Impulse of the Holy Spirit

There have been many times, unfortunately, that something has come to my mind and I have not acted upon it only to recognize later that it was the Holy Spirit putting something on my heart. Oftentimes my pastor will ask me about something, and I’ll think, I should have done that! That was the Holy Spirit trying to help me!

Be a detail oriented person and strive for excellence in your work. Anything worth doing is worth doing right! Have your work proofread. Don’t trust yourself to proofread your own work.

Here are some humorous examples of advertisements that should have been proofread:

Dog for sale: eats anything and is fond of children.
We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand.
For Rent: 6-room hated apartment.
Auto Repair Service: Free pick-up and delivery. Try us once, you'll never go anywhere again.
Used Cars: Why go elsewhere to be cheated? Come here first!
Our experienced Mom will care for your child. Fenced yard, meals, and smacks included.

Being a good support is very much about saving time for the one(s) for which you work.

7. Set Goals

Anyone can be busy but are you productive? Are you a timewaster? Do you talk too much? “Character is what you are in the dark.”—D.L. Moody

Set yourself smaller goals throughout the day. Tell yourself, “Before I take a lunch break, I need to return these phone calls. Before 11:00, I need to finish this filing or write these letters.”

8. Realize Conflicts and Interruptions are Unavoidable

You can control some of them, but you will never be able to control all of them.

You can’t please everyone—get used to it. Please the one you are supporting!  

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