A Tribute to my Administrative Assistant on Administrative Professionals Day
Today is Administrative Professionals Day, the one day set aside each year that “recognizes and celebrates the work of secretaries, administrative assistants and other office professionals for their contributions to the workplace.”1 There are about 4 million men and women who work as administrative professionals in America.
Today, I want to tell you a story about one of those people—Terry Eckdahl, my administrative assistant.
Six years ago Epikos Church in West Allis was booming. The campus was about a year old and more and more people were attending each week. It was an exciting time. With all the growth came the need to develop new ministries, visit and shepherd more people, raise up more disciples and establish new inroads into our community. As the West Allis campus pastor I was elated to see all that God was doing in our midst, but quite simply… I was overwhelmed. With each passing day it felt like more was slipping through the cracks and more opportunities were being missed. I was unable to keep up and the ministry was suffering.
This is the point when Terry Eckdahl enters the story. Quietly, humbly and unassumingly she approached me one day and mentioned that she had some experience working as an administrative assistant in a church setting—16 years of experience, to be exact, serving at another local church. She graciously offered to volunteer her time and skills to serve our church and me with administrative support. I was overjoyed and immediately took her up on the offer!
Terry wasted no time coming alongside me with selflessness, professionalism and sheer excellency. She intuitively knew where and how to step in and offer support and wisdom. Her impact was immediate and immense! Very shortly thereafter Terry agreed to join the Epikos Church staff as my administrative assistant. For the next six years Terry served with passion and joy, routinely going above and beyond all expectation in countless ways.
This is how I described my admiration for Terry in a recent email to the Epikos staff:
“For six years I have been overwhelmingly blessed to have the loyal, highly competent and selfless support of Terry Eckdhal as my administrative assistant. She has been a friend, a servant, a source of wise counsel and her direct support has made me a better pastor and has made our church more efficient and effective!”
Terry’s work has been behind the scenes and has gone unnoticed and unseen by most—and I know she is perfectly fine with that. It has been quite clear to me that Terry hasn’t served the church and others for the admiration or accolades of people. The truth is, for 22 years Terry has been serving the Lord Christ with everything she does. Her example reminds me of Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
After 22 years of faithful, servant hearted ministry within the local church, Terry will be entering into retirement this May, enjoying well-earned time with her husband Cory, her children and grandchildren and her mother. To say I am thankful for her love, her loyalty, her wisdom, her support and her ministry would be an understatement. She has been a constant example to me of what it means to be a servant of all.
Today, as I reflected on Terry’s example, the words of Jesus come to mind: “The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11
Terry is quite simply a servant of servants. In the most unassuming of ways, she has become one of the greatest people I have ever served alongside. Thank you Terry for being a Christ-like example to me and so many others for so many years. God has used you in mighty ways. Soli Deo Gloria!