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Although I'll use the pronoun, not all secretaries are she; I know, because twice I have served as one.
I have also been on the other side of the boss-secretary equation, ministering alongside the senior pastor in a large congregation. Presently I manage a full range of associates at Seattle Pacific University.
So I know what it is like to be handed work, and to assign it; I have been pastored by my boss, and I have cared for my associates. Seeing office life from both sides, I realize good relationships don't come easily.
It is particularly challenging to work on a church staff-in any capacity. The work itself may not make the job difficult; answering phones or sending correspondence or doing custodial work is really no different in a church setting than it is (or at least should be) in the business world. It's the nature of the boss that may create difficulties, for the workers' boss is also their pastor. The one who proclaims God's Word to them and serves them Communion also monitors their performance and hands them assignments. Where does a secretary go when she wants prayer for her job? Where does a custodian seek counsel when things are strained with his boss? Most can share their difficulties with a pastor. But what if the boss is the pastor?
And that boss, the pastor, faces this prospect: how to maintain a professional relationship with a coworker in a pastoral setting. This is as true for the pastor who receives voluntary help from parishioners as it is for the pastor who has a dozen on staff. Integrating those two relationships-the pastoral and the professional-proves a difficult task. As a result, sometimes the church staff-which spends more time with the pastor than nearly anyone else, and works most closely with the pastor-goes without pastoral care.
One of the ironies of this situation is that we are only as good as our support staff. Typing that report for the deacons, laying your hands on a copy of that letter sent seven months ago, sprucing up the sanctuary ...