Pastors: Hiring an Assistant Just Got Easier (9 Quick Tips)

So one day, you’re passionately preaching, joyfully leading your people, and all is well with your soul.

And then...things change.

You can’t pinpoint when it happened, but all of a sudden, you notice the people in the audience have turned into little white spots.

You pause, lean forward, and see that the faces of the people you once loved leading have turned into the glow of your computer screen -- calendar dates, itineraries, meeting notes, and spreadsheets -- looming and mocking you’re overwhelmed brain.

You, dear pastor, need some help. More specifically...you need an assistant.

But how do you make the right hire?

It doesn’t make sense to hire the first person willing, but you also recognize that this is a desperately needed role. So you want to hire fast, but well.

These 9 tips are designed to help you do exactly that.

1) Be specific about what they need to do to get an A+

Do you want your assistant to find you helpful resources?

Should they proactively look into speaking engagements?

Are you looking for someone to meticulously organize?

It doesn’t matter what you want them to do, as long as you can articulate it clearly.

So as you’re putting together a job description, AND when actually interviewing, convey what it will take to really excel-- to get an A+ in the role.

2) Articulate your personality and working style

When your assistant joins your team, he/she is doing just that: joining your team. Make sure you are the kind of leader that he/she can work with before the start by articulating your personality and working style.

Do you have pet peeves?

Are you particular about something?

Be upfront about these things, so that your potential hire has a full picture of you as a leader.

Additionally, give the potential hire a copy of your Myers-Briggs personality report. This will provide a strong picture of the type of person they could be potentially working for.

3) Understand their personality type

The twin of #2 is understanding your admin’s personality. Have any potential hire include a Myers-Briggs assessment with their application.

Pastors need to know if a personality will complement them or make them massage their temples. Myers-Briggs details which personalities tend to mesh and which conflict.

Regardless, it’s important to know how your admin operates. Conflicts sometimes boil down to different personalities who are actually on the same page, but doing things differently.

4) Ask these questions during the interview

  • How do you like to be encouraged?
  • What's the best way to critique you?
  • What aspects of your former job gave you the most energy?
  • What aspects of your former job were most draining?
  • What do you think you would enjoy most about this role?
  • How will your gifts & talents help our church do more effective ministry?
  • What have other leaders said that affirmed your strengths?
  • What have other leaders said in regard to your weaknesses?

5) Use an Agency

Hiring is one area in your ministry where it helps to be conventional.

Don’t be afraid to use established staffing agencies to find the right person. Vanderbloemen is a Christian search group that’s helped churches like Lifechurch.tv and Willow Creek find the perfect staffing fit.

Professional staffing agencies will be able to provide questionnaires for interviews and other helpful tools. They do the hard work so you don’t have to.

6) Invite them (and their spouse) into your home for dinner

It’s easy to pretend to be somebody in an interview setting; but invite the applicant (and their spouse, if they have one) to dinner in your home, and you’ll have a much better environment for understanding who they really are.

Obviously, this isn't something you'll want to do with every applicant. But once you've narrowed it down to two or three candidates, this is a great practice.

7) Define your process and stick to it

You may want to start with a wide net, then progressively whittle down the contenders. Maybe you start with 20, shorten to 10-15, squeeze to 4-6, zoom to 2 before choosing one. Or maybe you do something completely different. The point is, make a plan and stick to it.

Know what you want and need, then aim to find the specific characteristics and personality that you’re looking for.

8) Invest in good help

Administrative work can sometimes be seen as a low-paying opportunity that only requires menial tasks. You could go that route, or you could invest in moving your mission forward.

It makes sense to really invest in the position, for someone who’s capable of far more than menial tasks, someone who can really move you forward.

You’ll have to pay for it, but it will be more than worth it in the long run.

9) Don't stop after you hire them

For the first six months, meet and talk regularly with your assistant...but not just about plane ticket details and appointment times.

Be intentional about asking your assistant how they’re enjoying the role, and openly invite their feedback of you and your leadership. As the leader, you should always be focused on figuring out how you can lead better. And who better to give you that feedback than someone in the trenches with you every single day.

You’ll also need to be extremely clear with your assistant about what they’re doing well, and where they can improve. They’ll never know how they can get better unless you tell them, so don’t be bashful...

Hire Away

Administrative assistants play such a vital role for pastors. But thankfully, an important role is not an impossible role.

Take the time to make the best decision about someone who will be taking on a significant portion of your burden in ministry.

This post was written by Team Impact's Lead Evangelist, Stephen Mackey. When Mackey isn't speaking in schools and churches around the world, he's hanging out with his wife and two kiddos in Dallas, TX. 

To connect with Mackey, send him an email or shoot him a tweet...he's mildly addicted to communicating in 140 characters or less :)