Relationships are an integral part of every job. Even the lone accountant who crunches numbers in his cubicle all day has to interact with someone at some time. There is no work that eliminates the need for personal interaction. And your job as church secretary is no different. While your responsibilities often remain constant, the dynamics of your relationship with people change—depending on stress level, personalities, moods, and even time of day.
The stronger the relationships within the church family, the greater the resources and higher the activity level. As church secretary, your job is more than the mundane. It is more than taking notes, keeping the books, and producing reports. All your statistics can be translated into relationships—of a member with another, with the church, and with God.
Motivational speaker, Peter Lowe, suggests seven principles to develop “productive working relationships.” When practiced consistently, these principles will make church life more enjoyable, more productive, and more rewarding. Change needs to begin somewhere. Let it begin with you.
Keep Your Goal in Mind. “Perhaps the greatest roadblock to working well with difficult people is a mental block” We often focus our time and energy thinking of what that problem person deserves instead of how we can work together to accomplish mutual goals. We become so preoccupied with our own annoyance that we handicap ourselves with our own attitude. So working well with others begins with a personal makeover—not a temporary one that lasts for the duration of the difficult encounter, but one that grows into a permanent makeover built on this primary principle: Both parties have the same goals—just different ways of getting there. So focus on the goal rather than the means.
Take Responsibility for Your Relationship with Others. “Once you have accepted responsibility for your relationships, you are free to take the initiative in improving them” We often act as though a “poisonous relationship” is out of our control—as if we are drawn into conflicts against our will. That is totally untrue! We have full control over our actions. We have the power to change relationships, habits, and even the future—with the choices we make.
Always Avoid Arguments. “Disagreements are inevitable; arguments are not.” Harsh words leave a scar, and a loss of respect is almost always accompanied by a loss of temper. There is no such thing as “winning” an argument—only pushing the other to “submission.” This type of winning is the quickest way to lose a relationship.
Look for the Best in Others. “What we see in people determines what we think of them. As you look for, and find, the nobler side of problem people, you will naturally treat them better. And they in turn will respond better.” This does not mean that we need to approve all the actions of problem people. But we do need to look for and appreciate the best in them.
Seek Understanding. “The best way to understand the reasoning and responses of difficult people is to empathize.” In other words, we need to put ourselves in their place and look at the same situation from their perspective. Our natural tendency is to project motives into actions—usually bad motives. The result is a rush to pass judgment. Empathy prevents this from happening, while broadening our understanding of the situation and improving our relationship.
Learn to Listen. “Listening doesn’t mean merely remaining quiet while another is speaking before launching into a rebuttal. Listening requires us to focus our attention on what the other person is saying—not on how we wish to respond.” It is important for the problem person to feel and know that we are interested in what is being said. One way we can do this is through our body language. Another is by the kinds of questions we ask: Ask questions that gather details, direct, and are non-judgmental.
Practice the Golden Rule. “The ‘Golden Rule’ that you act toward others as you would have them act toward you, is the single greatest principle of human relations in the history of mankind.” The way we speak of and behave toward people, be they difficult or delightful, is an example for all to see.