Assistants are the Exception

I have always appreciated the quote “a lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”. It encourages people to think ahead and be ready for what’s coming. But this quote absolutely does not apply to assistants. This is actually just one of the many reasons assistants exist. It may not be for lack of preparation but rather for the pace of running a non-profit, church, or business, our bosses rely on the fact that we as assistants are here for exactly these moments, (please understand this in the healthiest way) to drop everything and tend to these urgent needs. Sometimes life just happens, and when the unanticipated springs up, we are here to help care for people or get a task completed.

When people ask me what I do every day, I smile. Each day can be totally different. Sure, I have my consistent routines of responding to emails, scheduling appointments, sending cards, and taking meeting notes. However, what makes this job so exciting (and overwhelming at times) is that I enter each day never exactly sure what I will be responsible for accomplishing.

My boss is one of the most prepared people I know, so please understand my context when I shared the above quote, but truly “an unexpected opportunity, a last minute flight change, a family in a desperate situation, or an urgent conversation on their part IS what consitutes a change of priority on ours” and that is what assisting is all about — being there for when the unplanned circumstance arises to say, “I will take care of it. You can trust me to tend to this need, in an excellent and timely manner.”

The Choice When Chosen

1 Kings 19: 19 So Elijah went and found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing a field. There were twelve teams of oxen in the field, and Elisha was plowing with the twelfth team. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak across his shoulders and then walked away. 20 Elisha left the oxen standing there, ran after Elijah, and said to him, “First let me go and kiss my father and mother good-bye, and then I will go with you!”

Elijah replied, “Go on back, but think about what I have done to you.”

21 So Elisha returned to his oxen and slaughtered them. He used the wood from the plow to build a fire to roast their flesh. He passed around the meat to the townspeople, and they all ate. Then he went with Elijah as his assistant.


This scene is one that captivates me and comes to mind often as I reflect about my journey as an assistant. I moved to Louisiana to teach math with the idea of eventually living overseas. Somewhere during this duration of certification and spiritual growth, God changed the narrative of my story. Instead of moving to the mission field, I was asked to assist the missions pastor at our church. Assisting was never my dream or plan; my degree is in mathematics and African studies.

Five years ago, my boss (our missions pastor) was asked to step into the role of lead pastor. I remember vividly the day he sat me down in his office and had a conversation with me about this transition. After a long drive around the city, intentional conversations with spiritual advisors, and much fasting and prayer, his wife and he felt the Lord's leading to accept this mantle of responsibility. He asked me if I would do the same: "We would be honored to have you continue as my assistant into this next season. Please make time to talk it over with your husband and mentors, pray and fast, and consider if you would be willing to accept this position." 

I have worked many places and held many positions, but this moment marked me. This was a "cloak over the shoulder" call. The future would look differently, and it was not to be entered into without thoughtful reflection. For me, this was not a year commitment kind of question, it was a reconsideration of my calling. It was choosing to make my roots here, plant my heart and feet in this place, behind a desk just outside a door -- it was laying down my dreams on the altar and trusting God with the future He had planned instead.  Even as I write this, I realize that many chapters of my story echo this same theme, so it should have come as no surprise to me that God would change things up just to keep me close to Christ rather than idolize my calling.

Obviously, I accepted and am still his assistant today. There are days that are more difficult and moments that I am not sure I am truly cut out for the job, but then I remember: I chose to say yes to this, and I left the fields and slaughtered the oxen of other options. In doing so, I am only able to look forward and believe that as I am faithful with what God has placed in my hands, He is faithful to bring to fulfillment all He has placed in my heart.

My pastor still encourages me every year to go to Africa, and I am grateful for the opportunity because overseas missions will always be in my veins, but also I recognize that over time new passions and desires have taken root in my heart. My husband and I live as missionaries in this city, and I jump with joy every time I get the chance to meet with or encourage assistants in the journey. 

So today I want to encourage you: God is doing a great work in you, and He who began this work will bring it to completionPress on toward Christ who has called you. Lean on Him, even when it doesn't make sense to you, look the way you expected, or turn out the way you planned. Let Him be the author and finisher of your faith, and I promise, by its ending, you will look more like Jesus, and this will be the best story you could have never written on your own.

 

A Messy Ministry Moment

Yesterday was one of those tough days of ministry. I had a conflict with a co-worker/friend in front of other coworkers/friends. It was a simple misunderstanding that I blew out of proportion. This emotionally driven moment could have been easily avoided if I had been willing to allow humility to elevate our relationship over my pride of needing to be proven “right”.

Thankfully we both are committed to our friendship and worked through it immediately, but, as there is in any group of humans, hurt remains, gossip lingers, and this conflict is added to the pile until it will either be forgotten or is able to be laughed about one day. 

Unfortunately, because everyone has different personalities, engage in disagreements in opposing ways (hello fight or flight), and ultimately since we are sinners in a fallen world, conflict will happen (even in a Christ-centered environment) at some point with someone. 

I am writing this as I still process and reflect on how I could have better responded to the situation, but two things I am grateful for are His promises that His mercies are new every morning and that the love of Christ covers a multitude of sin. I can’t control how others will engage with me from this point, but through repentance and reconciliation, I can do my part to restore the friendship and trust God to somehow (even if I can’t see it now) redeem the moment and use it to help me grow toward Christ and others. 

 

Your Turn: How do you handle conflict in your workplace?