“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)
Working in a church and school office is ____________________. When you allow others to fill in the blank, you might hear things like: nerve-wracking, boring, overwhelming, fun, or exciting. People are always amazed when I share my job with them. I’ve had people change their “language” choices in front of me, share prayer requests with me, and ask me how I ended up doing that for a living. Most people, within the congregation or community, don’t quite understand the role of a church/school administrative assistant. In my fifteen years of experience of working in a church and school office, I didn’t meet a lot of other people that shared my career. The Office Personnel Conference offered me the opportunity to meet other people that shared not only my job title, but also my passion for serving God’s people as an Administrative Assistant.
Moving Out of My Comfort Zone
It all started when my pastor suggested that both our school and church secretaries attend the Office Personnel Conference several years ago. We both felt a sense of excitement and fear. Working at the church does not allow for a lot of travel, especially overnight! Frankenmuth, in our minds, was a fun place to go and the outlets were just down the road. How bad could it be? After our fear subsided and we were making the drive to Frankenmuth, we talked about what type people we would encounter. Would the majority of people be quiet, grandmotherly-type ladies? Would we meet people that wore business suits and took themselves too seriously? Or would we meet people who were just like us, moms that started working full-time in hopes of helping our children go to a Christian school? What we found was a group of men and women who were kind, fun, serious but not too serious, and who loved the Lord. We were amazed that they understood our jobs and shared similar experiences.
Through the many different workshops, we learned that others shared some of the same frustrations and concerns as we did. They also shared many of the joys that we experienced in our own church/school. We were excited to learn tricks that other office personnel did to make their jobs easier and help them to be more efficient. We shared stories, much laughter, and many ideas on how to make our church and school offices better. The speakers offered us ways to better organize our offices and balance our work and home life. They encouraged us to live out the all-important calling from the Lord. Although we sometimes felt as if our role was not important, they shared how important it really was and how the Lord used us to build His kingdom. We learned that we didn’t just have a job but were called into a ministry. Living our lives for Christ and providing a joyful office allowed children and parishioners the opportunity to feel Christ’s love for them. It changed the way I looked at my role in the office. It also encouraged me to be the best that I could be.
The workshops and networking were wonderful during the day. At night, we joined for dinner and fellowship and had an opportunity to play mini golf, swim, go for a walk, or share a karaoke song or two. The relaxed atmosphere helped us all to feel welcome and accepted. The food was delicious, the hospitality of the Bavarian Inn staff was tremendous, and afterwards, there was just enough time to go shopping.
Valuing Time Off the Clock
If you are working in the office of a church/school, please consider attending this wonderful conference. It is well worth it. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from taking time off from my “normal” job to attend conferences and classes. The work will still be there when you get back. Invest in yourself and allow time to refocus, refresh, and be uplifted by others. You will also provide yourself with an opportunity to be the best you can be for the Lord and the people you serve.