One of the very first mistakes a quorum president makes is choosing their right-hand-man as the first counselor. The secretary position is sometimes looked at as the training position – somewhere to put the guy that doesn’t have much experience in a presidency. They soon find out the secretary should be the guy that never lets you down. When you need someone who is persistent in making the phone calls or dealing with a difficult situation it many times ends up being the secretary. The counselors have room to make the mistakes. As for the secretary of the presidency he has to always be on his game.
You are the true First counselor
Once you, the executive secretary understand you are more than a counselor, step up to the task. Push the bishop in a direction you feel would be most worth his time. He doesn’t need you to be the “yes man” he needs you to step back, analyze the situation, and help him decide how to best use his time.
You are the Bishop’s Office Bouncer
Each appointment slot the bishop has is as valuable as the people you feel them with. It’s frustrating as a bishop to have someone step into the office and ask for something one of the counselors could have done. Qualify each person to meet with the bishop. Of course, you don’t want to become the gate-keeper for the Bridge of Death nor do you want them to give you confidential details about what they want to discuss with the bishop.
For example, the bishop might determine all church welfare requests to first contact the ward Welfare Specialist. Or a temple recommends for a member that has lived in the ward over a year can be done by one of the bishop’s counselors. The executive secretary could then ask, “Is this appointment about a temple recommend, something financial, or something personal?” This simple question can save a lot of time and allow someone else with a much more pressing need to meet with the bishop sooner. There are many other examples of appointments that are not using the bishops time effectively. You can avoid this by asking a few broad questions.
Set the Pace
Every executive secretary knows that his calling includes a lot of waiting. A 15-minute appointment can quickly turn into 1 hour and 15 minutes. There are many times when this is necessary but other times the bishop cannot seem to get himself out of the appointment. A light knock on the office door at the end of the scheduled appointment allows the bishop to indirectly communicate to the interviewee their time is up. Of course, you don’t want to give the feeling of a busy doctor’s office but it encourages the person to get to the point and reminds them they are not the only person trying to meet with the bishop. Discuss this strategy with your bishop and he will decide what he prefers.
Also be sensitive to those waiting for their appointment. Many times the bishop’s schedule will get behind and a simple phone call to future appointments letting them know of the bishop’s delay is well received.
Be the Catch-All
With so much on the bishop’s mind, it is nice to have a secretary to gather thoughts so he doesn’t worry about forgetting something. A simple thought, “Don’t forget to visit Brother and Sister Struggling” can nag the bishop’s mind until he takes action. Help put these thoughts and prompting at peace by being available to gather these thoughts and to help him follow up. This can be done through a simple text or email.
What qualities do you look for in a secretary?