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September 1988


Editorial Comment

The Misunderstanding of the Mission Agencies

1. Is the Mission Field "Overseas"? 2. Are Lay Tentmakers the Manpower Answer?

SEPs: Partnering for Kingdom Profits

Paraclete Mission Group: Fostering Cooperation Among Agencies at USCWM

For Wan of a Secretary Might the War Be Lost?

At the Center

Malcom Hunter and the Adopt-A-People Concept

Adopt-A-People: Alive and Growing

Why God Will Not Bring Revival in America

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For Want of a Secretary Might the War Be Lost?

—Art McCleary

You have no doubt heard the parable that starts, “For want of a nail, the shoe was lost . . . .” We often give little thought to the ‘nails’ in our lives until something drastic happens to convince us of their worth.

In many busineses, secretaries and typists are treated like nails—a dime a dozen. Our society fosters that kind of thinking by the salary levels it assigns to such positions. Price tags, however, do not accurately reflect the value of the work. Instead, they reflect the size and demographics of the available labor pool: mostly young women who are not the primary bread-winners in their families.

When a secretary or typist gets married, moves away, or gives birth and stays home to care for her family, her employer simply hires another young woman willing to do that type of work for a few years.

Unfortunately, not only does the secular pay scale tend to color the business world’s perception of secretarial work, but it often muddles managers’ thinking about the people who are doing the job. Secretaries are commonly underrated and not given credit for having the intelligence to make valuable contributions in their own right to the organization or cause for which they work.

Too often they are perceived as capable only of typing letters which others have dictated or carrying out the plans and wishes of those with “more significant” positions.

It’s a shame that the business world does not recognize the potential of secretaries. But what about the church?

We hear sermons on spiritual gifts and how we are all one body, but with different functions. It is amazing, then, to find that the church appears to esteem secretaries no higher than the business world. We have had church mission committees say that they don’t think it would be a good use of their money to support a person doing secretarial work. But for want of a skilled secretary, many missionaries are kept from the tasks to which God has called them.

Take Ralph Winter for example. God has uniquely gifted Dr. Winter. He has a job to fulfill. And he needs a team of people in his office to help him fulfill it.

Dr. Winter recently lost to motherhood two of the three vital people who work in his office. Right now he needs a receptionist and a secretary/typist just to keep from falling further behind than he is already in correspondence and projects.

Yet he’s not looking for people who will do simply what he asks. He wants people who can make a contribution in their own right to the ministry involved in his office. He might even start catching up if he had someone who could read and answer some of his mail for him.

Dr. Kietzman, executive vice president of WCIU, has no secretary or administrative assistant. He needs an assistant who can function independently to effect a myriad of scheduling and other details. A secretary who could personally answer much of his correspondence as well as transcribe his dictation would free him up to give more effective leadership to a developing university.

As general manager, I have limped along for five years without regular secretarial help. That results in many things not getting done and long work hours that take their toll on family life. During those temporary periods when I did have office assistance, I was better able to manage this complex ministry. Without an assistant or two, I have had to work up to 80 hours per week for extended periods. God has not called me here to get burned out, to break up my marriage . . . or to type 20 words per minute!

Perhaps God has gifted you to handle details, to type 80 wpm, to graciously communicate by phone and in person, and to organize the affairs of an office.

Secretaries, typists, receptionists, and administrative assistants are needed in missions just as much as church planters, teachers, mobilizers, medical missionaries, and mission executives.

To serve the Lord in office work for missions, talk with your pastor, and then contact the Personnel Department, USCWM, 1605 Elizabeth Street, Pasadena, CA 91104. Or call (818) 398-2339.

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