Jibstay

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Here's to Sandi, who makes us all look good!


I found out that today was Administrative Assistant Day (didn't that used to be Secretary's Day?) I hurried out and got a bouquet of flowers for Sandi, the Administrative Assistant at MCC. She makes us all look good by answering the phone with a smile, by having a first response to callers that is "Yes, we can try to help you!", by laughing a lot, by having a bowl full of candy on the front desk, by poking her head in the door and asking if I need anything before she goes, by interrupting a meeting saying "I think you need to take this call", by finding something loveable in just about everybody, by being willing to take out the trash, make the coffee, give tardy people extensions, and by loving Jesus.
When I look back on the many secretaries and administrative assistants I have been privileged to work with, I think about how much they shaped me. Judy began with me in Lafayette. I was fresh out of seminary and full of energy and optimism. Judy, wife and mother of two girls, was non-negotiably loyal to me first. She went of of her way to make me look much better than I was. When I left the church, Judy resigned. She said that we had too much fun for her to try to get close to the next pastor. We remain friends.
Sally ran the church in Muskegon. She was in charge and on top of everything. Sally, however, had worked for other pastors and was not about to give me a blank check of loyalty right of the bat. I had to earn her trust. That too was a gift, teaching me to earn loyalty dialy from someone who worked side-by-side with me. Sally toughened me to face conflicts I did not face in Lafayette. And when I left after 7 1/2 years, Sally stayed on...she's still there, keeping things straight and honest.
When I came to Salem, Karen was my secretary and was my predecessor's as well. She taught me about transitions and knowing the deeper stories of people and their families. Salem was a community with a long history and deep relationships. Karen read the map for me. During our Salem years I learned how a secretary could carry me. These were the years we faced family crises like our daughter's cancer, a house fire and car wrecks. Karen covered for me when I was too wonded. She learned to do that when my predecessor's son died. She knew how to care for suffering pastors. After Karen I had Kim as my secretary, loyal mother and wife who had incredible hard work and organization. She was as faithful to the church as a person could be. When a conflict happened between me and her husband, I saw an honorable woman stand by her husband and work for a pastor who caused her husband pain. Patrice was my last secretary at Salem. She brought a dry humor and deep deep love for literature and liturgy. We would crack liturgical jokes and send each other CS Lewis or Malcom Muggeridge quotes. She was a Baptist turned Anglican but evangelical underneath. Patrice created a quiet calm in the staff because of integrity and depth.
Suzanne was the secretary who welcomed me into Santa Barbara and knew the ropes for everything. Suzanne graciously extended her time with the church to get me up and running, though she had deep and wonderful loyalty to my predecessor. Though we could disagree, she helped me step into both the Montecito Church and California culture. Then, after about a year, she retired and Sandi arrived. Just listing this string of administrative assistants is proof of God and providence!
Thank you all for keeping me going in the right direction!

2 Comments:

At 11:30 PM , Blogger Rock in the Grass said...

This is a wonderful tribute! I too have worked with secretarial support in different churches, and must agree that they most often made me look better than I was. I am convinced that being a church secretary/administrator is as much a divine calling as that of being a pastor.
Peace
Pete G

 
At 10:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

She is the walk in the life of Christ and the proof we can serve to all of humanity! God bless her!

 

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