Monday, February 27, 2006

The Ministry of Administration

Sometimes I feel like Rodney Dangerfield, I get no respect. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the kind of person that really doesn’t crave a lot of encouragement and I certainly don’t need cheerleaders on this highway of life. God has blessed me in all things and has provided for me in so many ways that I really don’t need special accolades, awards or remarks about how valuable I am to the organization.

At the same time however, a feeling of "no respect" is not uncommon and I’m aware that many of my fellow laborers in Christ are feeling significantly under appreciated. It is very likely that this feeling is likely affecting their attitude, their altitude and their aptitude.

My passion has been, and I think will always be, to be an encourager. One of the assignments I have enjoyed is to encourage organizations and their leaders to become successful. There are all kinds of ways to measure success and while one of the metrics I use is financial, the other is quality and excellence in ministry.

Both measurements of success really go hand in hand as it’s difficult to have quality and excellence in ministry without the proper financial metric so that bills are paid and that employees are well compensated.

The skills that need to be acquired in an organization in order to have the bills paid promptly and the appropriate compensation for the employees are also the same skills that are needed in almost very organization which are the skills of Administration.

Administration is really just another name for management to which people tend to pay a little more attention. Management is really become a science and it has been determined that there are four basic functions of Management, which include Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling. These four functions are identified as such to represent the totality of management. While some new college textbooks will offer up a fifth or sixth function such as leadership or communication, typically these functions fit quite nicely in one of the other four functions.

What is interesting in a church or other not-for-profit organization is that administration and management is often considered as an after-thought, and not one of the primary enablers of success in ministry. This can be a costly and avoidable mistake. While it is true that most seminaries don’t offer a lot of classes in management or require students to attend lectures on various administrative responsibilities, the Apostle Paul was not so remise.

The Apostle Paul listed the gift of Administration in the gifts of the Spirit. In 1 Cor. 12:28 he writes, “And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, administration, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues”. In Romans 12:8 Paul also encourages a similar gift when he writes, "If it is leadership, let him govern diligently."

This gift of governing, administering, and managing a church or other ministry is an extremely important gift in the body of Christ. I have found that the vast majority of the skills that I acquired in 25 years of experience in for-profit organizations are directly transferable to not-for-profit organizations as well.
For example, some HR skill comes in handy as "who" organizations hire becomes problematic as soon as the second employee is hired. In addition, it can be said that how to compensate employees and the method that is used to measure their accomplishments is critical if an organization wants to attain and retain talented individuals. Further, the method and process that delegates authority down from the senior leader, whether that leader is called the senior pastor or CEO, enables the organization to grow and adapt to change. Finally, financial matters are recognized as significant the first time the organization fails to meet a payroll or needs to borrow funds for expansion.

So, to my friends in ministry, be encouraged. The gift of administration that has been given to you is a God-given gift that you need to use. While many may not recognize how critical the gift is in sustaining the ministry, use your gift to propel the ministry onto excellence; excellence in Planning, Organizing, Directing and Controlling the organization.

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