Renee, my assistant, was my first hire after getting to Phoenix. She has served me, my family, and our church so well that it is difficult to capture it all in one article. Brian Howard’s article on how to hire the right assistant served me well in hiring Renee, so I won’t spend time here on that topic. Rather, I want to communicate how helpful a good assistant, like Renee, actually is, and hopefully encourage you to get one as soon as you can. Here are three ways Renee has served us so well.
Protecting the Pastor
I am my own worst enemy. I am absent minded. I easily lose track of time. I over-extend myself. I am aloof to my blind spots. Renee isn’t. She sees it all. She has access to my email, both church and personal accounts. She controls my calendar. I think she may even have my credit card number! Before taking on writing for this blog, I ran it by Renee. More and more I find myself saying, “I don’t know. Ask Renee.” And that is a good thing. It frees my mind to focus on how to move the church forward rather than obsessing over things I shouldn’t.
A good assistant will fill-in-the-gaps missing from a leader’s skill set.
Renee also protects my marriage by blocking out time on my calendar so I remember to have date nights with my wife. She knows that my marriage is more important than this church and helps me guard it. My wife loves her for it. She has access to me like few others do. With that access comes responsibility and she takes it seriously. She cares about our church by caring about my family.
Saying Uncomfortable Things
With so much access, Renee sees things. If I miss a date night, she knows. If I am not taking rest days, she knows. She knows my tendencies, my bad habits, my sin bents, my shortcomings, and my faux pas. And her aforementioned protection drives her to speak up. Because I know she cares, I have to listen. I appreciate and need her accountability.
When Renee points out uncomfortable things, she always does so with humility and grace. I never sense self-righteousness, judgement, or condemnation from her. I only sense grace that is courageous enough to speak despite the discomfort from a heart that cares for her pastor.
God has placed gifted people like Renee in His church and more than likely in your church. If you don’t have a Renee yet, pray God gives you one soon. If you do, get a pen and paper, write them a thank you note asap. And mail it, don’t just hand it to them. It’s just a stamp and they are more than worth it.