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Organizing your life with an assistant
When I talk with pastors struggling under the weight of church leadership and church planting, the topic of hiring an assistant comes up often. In an effort to help, Pastor Mark and I created this questionnaire to walk pastors through identifying your mission and communicating it in a way that can help an assistant be fruitful and helpful.
In 2005 I received the incredible offer to become Pastor Mark Driscoll’s executive assistant. I had been on staff at Mars Hill Church for four years already, serving in a variety of roles, so I had insight into nearly every aspect of church leadership up to that point. But it was nothing compared to the next season of serving Pastor Mark and seeing where God was taking this church.
Prior to becoming Pastor Mark’s assistant, my interaction with him had been limited, so I had no idea what would be most helpful to him. Instead of tossing me into the position to figure it out as I went, Pastor Mark prepared a document for me without which I would not have had a smooth transition into my new role or been helpful to him as his assistant.
Most pastors have not taken the time to work on their ministry because working in their ministry is monopolizing their time.
A well-defined new role
What Pastor Mark handed me was a sixty-five-page document. He detailed his spiritual gifts; professional resume; priorities in his life, home, and work; his personal workflow techniques; church growth articles; homework for me in order to grow in my understanding of assisting in general; and the first iteration of a job description. In addition to explaining his ministry, he explained what would be my ministry.
Preparing the pastor and assistant to be fruitful together
When I talk with pastors struggling under the weight of church leadership and church planting, the topic of hiring an assistant comes up often. Pastor Mark created that original sixty-five-page document for me, but most pastors have not taken the time to work on their ministry because working in their ministry is monopolizing their time.
In an effort to help, Pastor Mark and I created this questionnaire to walk pastors through identifying your mission and communicating it in a way that can help an assistant be fruitful and helpful. Use this life organization questionnaire to clarify your ministry, pinpoint areas where some extra support could maximize your effectiveness, and help your assistant learn how best to support you.
- What is your personal resume? What you have done?
- What are your spiritual gifts, in order of strength?
- What spiritual gifts are you certain you do not have?
- What do you consider your top seven priorities, in order?
- What are your theological distinctives?
- What is your job description?
- List the various aspects of your job—preaching, teaching, counseling, leading, administrating, etc.
- What ministry and/or other work do you have beyond the local church?
- Where do you need the most help getting and keeping yourself healthy and fruitful?
- What are the main pain-points in your life right now (e.g., email, phone, meetings, health)?
- How is ministry negatively affecting your family and home life?
- How long have you had your current contact information (e.g., phone, email) and how many people have them? How often are you getting interrupted, including on evenings and weekends?
- What people cause you the most difficulty? Why?
- Who should be on your priority list of people allowed access to you?
- Are there questions you repeatedly receive for which a template response could be drafted?
- What projects are currently in process that if prioritized would particularly serve you?
- What staff relationships could an assistant develop to minimize your need to inform, lead, or correct them directly?
Where do you need the most help getting and keeping yourself healthy and fruitful?
- What are your weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual rhythms (e.g., vacations, sports seasons for your kids, travel)?
- How do you structure your workweek?
- How should your assistant’s workweek be structured to be most helpful to you?
- What systems do you need for accountability (e.g., never meeting with someone of the opposite sex alone, or with an angry critic alone, or traveling alone)?
- Where do you do most of your work (e.g., home, office, coffeeshops)? Is that most effective?
- When should your assistant take vacations? In conjunction with or opposite of yours?
Your assistant’s role
- What things will make you unhappy and strain your working relationship with your assistant?
- What will get your assistant fired?
- What will get your assistant put on probation?
- How do you want your assistant to keep in step with you (e.g., weekly meal, meeting, email, phone call)?
- If you’ve had previous assistants, what has worked for you? What hasn’t worked that needs to change?
- How can your assistant best raise questions and concerns in a positive and respectful manner?
- What blogs, books, podcasts, articles, and such have been the most influential to you?
- Which sermons or writings of yours are crucial for your assistant to understand in order to serve you best?
- What ministry leaders do you know who excel in utilizing an assistant? How can you learn from them?
- Are there any other resources your assistant should review?
- What other guiding principles do you have?
This questionnaire is just a guide, so adapt it as you see fit. I hope this helps you clarify your mission and the areas where an assistant can support your work and ministry.