Tactful Timing

Many assistants I know have a regularly scheduled meeting with their supervisor, but that is not feasible for my boss and me. I am the only one to blame for not setting our time together since I help to block out his appointments. This is mostly because I tend to sacrifice this meeting time for when people  just need "15 minutes". So instead, I have an ongoing list of questions that I can quickly access whenever my boss is able to meet with me.

However, one thing I am not very good at is gauging the best timing for more difficult questions or serious topics.

For example: Wednesdays are set aside for my pastor to prepare the Sunday sermon. When he came in to the office, he asked me to connect about a few receipts and items to follow up on before he got to studying. I pulled out my list and used this opportunity to ask some quick questions. But while I was on a roll, I dropped a thoughtfully heavy topic regarding our structure/procedures. This was not an easy topic and it was absolutely the wrong time to ask. He was just about to study for a message and I left him with a topic that could easily linger in the forefront of his mind, and keep him from focusing on what is more urgent and important. 

So this blog post is less about advice on "how to" and instead a question of "how do you".  All I have to offer are these proverbs: 

Proverbs 10:14 NLT- Wise people treasure knowledge, but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

Proverbs 17:28 NLT- Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

Proverbs 21:23 NLT- Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.

Your Turn: What are your tactics of tactful timing for addressing difficult topics with your boss?



Laugh More!

I am a joyful person and love life, but I tend to be a pretty serious person. My bent is for deep conversations, and I don't last long with small talk. I try to make the most of each moment and find purpose in every step. And I over analyze. I just don't find myself belly laughing often.

That is until this year. One of my words for the year is FUN, and I trusted that God would lead me to lean in to LAUGHTER and enjoy life more than I already do. *Genesis 21:6 NLT- And Sarah declared, "God has brought me laughter. All who hear about this will laugh with me.

When I opened myself up to this, I looked around and realized that the Lord purposefully placed me in environments around people that help me to take myself less seriously. The team I work alongside daily are all super funny people and encourage me to lighten up. They stop by my desk to show me hilarious memes, tell me stories that I wouldn't believe, and help me to find humor in a world that often seems so heavy. 

I also meet monthly with a group of women, many are spouses of those with whom I work. We get together late at night after the kids are in bed, and around a table of good food, we share our lives and laugh so hard we cry. They remind me that in the intensity of life, laughter is good medicine for your soul.  *Proverbs 17:22 MSG- A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

I don’t know what is going on in your world or the burdens you are carrying, but I would challenge you that in the middle of it all, in spite of your circumstances, right now, purposefully lean into an opportunity to laugh. Maybe watch a funny Youtube video, listen to a song that brings you joy (this is one of our family’s favorite), or grab lunch with a friend that always has a story to tell. Sometimes it can feel like the weight of the world is ours to carry, but it is important that we remember that God has it all under control. He made this day simply for you to ENJOY it, so let go and laugh a little. *Psalm 118:24 ESV- This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

It just takes time.

Last fall while on maternity leave, another amazing assistant helped take care of my workload so I could tend to my newest little girl. The assistant did an outstanding job! ; )  

When I got back, she and I debriefed about what went well and the items I needed to follow up. She made a comment that her greatest challenge was not knowing the context and history of different people with whom she communicated. It was something that I have taken for granted having worked with my boss for so long.  This assistant was new to staff and was still meeting our church family. I reassured her that it takes time to get to know people.

This can be a challenge in the early months, and even years, of assisting. When your boss asks you to set up a lunch or contact a person, you may not know their phone number or the context for the meeting. It can be difficult because you don’t want to ask too many questions, but you also don’t know the details.

Having served in the same position for almost a decade, I have had the privilege of getting to know a lot of people with whom my boss interacts. I have been honored to greet pastors, work alongside our board, write cards to church members, and talk with business people in the community.  In doing so, I have heard their stories, celebrated their successes, and prayed for their families.

I want to encourage you that this is part of the job that just takes time. Getting to know people and relationships isn’t something you can “microwave cook”. It is a journey that will take you being involved and in the loop of their lives, not in a gossip way, but in a genuine "care for them as people, value their family and investment in the church/ministry/business" kind of way.  Day by day, as you meet people and learn about your community, this knowledge will help you continue to grow to be the best assistant for your boss.