by Brent Hanson.

I still remember the line from a disgruntled former member’s letter: “You just don’t treat people right.” The letter went on to list all my shortcomings. It was not the first negative letter I had received, nor would it be the last, I’m sure.

What this person preferred was for all sin to go unconfronted. Even if someone in leadership was openly doing wrong, they still should be allowed to continue so their “feelings” could be preserved.

One of the common criticisms dumped upon people with administrative gifts is that they care more about projects than they do about people. In some cases, that may be true. I have certainly been on the receiving end of this in some cases as a ministry staff person. But when someone who has a close love relationship with Jesus also has the gift of administration, it can be a match made in heaven.

The spiritual gift of administration can be wonderfully effective in providing visionary leadership. You may be thinking, “Brent, did you just say what I thought you said? You connected vision and administration!”

Yes, I did. Most pastors want to see great things happen in their churches. Some have visions of phenomenal growth, of people coming to Christ in droves, of even having to put volunteers on a waiting list (wouldn’t that be nice?). But none of these things will really happen without someone with the gift of administration. It is a spiritual gift listed in I Corinthians 12:28. It is vital in the body of Christ, and it is essential in achieving long-term, sustainable fruitfulness in ministry.

Since New Song Community Church began nearly nine years ago with 12 people, we have not seen phenomenal growth, but we have seen steady growth year after year. We have not lost sight of the vision. We expanded to two services at the beginning of 2004. By God’s grace, we will add a third in 2005. All of these things would not happen without effective spiritual administration.

The Bible is full of examples of effective leaders who had this spiritual gift:

“God gave Solomon great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge too vast to be measured” 1 Kings 4:29 (NLT).

“So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat!” Genesis 39:6 (NLT)

“Then the other administrators and princes began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling his affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize. He was faithful and honest and always responsible” Daniel 6:4 (NLT).

Some of us today have this gift and need to realize how awesome it can be for accomplishing God’s purposes. Others do not have the gift but can develop more of it, while appreciating those who do have it.

Developing this gift and using it in balance means you have to:

1. Set godly goals.

I add the word “godly” because it is essential that we first find out what God wants us to do. He is really the director and master of our lives. We need to make sure we are following his agenda and not our own.

Some goals may be more specific than others. But make sure they are goals that can be measured. Make sure your goal is specific enough so you can tell whether you have achieved it or not.

We haven’t had many specific numerical goals at New Song. But one of my goals has been that we would grow as a church every year. After all, that’s very biblical; Jesus commanded us to be “fruitful” (see John 15:1-17). We have grown an average of 15 percent per year. That goal determines what we do as a church to achieve it. We consistently reach out to our community with thousands of outreach mailers every year. Does that cost money? Of course it does. But if we hope to achieve the goal of growth, we have to do something to achieve it.

2. Cast vision for the godly goals you have set.

It is important that people in your church know why you have set the goal. Explain the biblical foundation for the goal and what God has spoken to your heart. When people understand, then they can support it. It is the leader’s job to set the tone and direction for the church.

Some will oppose it. Not everyone will buy into the vision. But your job is to inspire as many as possible to understand and support. Jesus constantly cast vision with his disciples. He would often say, “This is what the kingdom of God is like….” Then, he would tell a parable.

A few years back we started a discipleship program of four classes to communicate what we believe as a church. We talked about ministry, including the fact that God has called every believer to be a minister. I knew when we started these classes that they would change our church. I cast the vision for it. Many signed up.

In the long run, we lost many of the people who were with the church when the classes started. Why? God was taking our church to a new level of commitment. Not everyone wanted to grow. Not everyone joined us on that level. What I have discovered is that people come to your church the way it is, not the way you envision it.

But the good news is that our church has been more fruitful than ever. We’ve grown numerically. Giving has increased dramatically. New ministries have started, and most important, we have baptized all kinds of people who have come to faith in Christ.

3. Look for people who will help you achieve those goals.

Very few goals can be achieved single-handedly. Make sure the people who are going to help implement goals are people who share your vision and have the skills necessary for achieving them. Nothing is worse than someone trying to achieve a goal without sharing the vision, or lacking the abilities. In fact, it is better not to do something at all than to have it done poorly.

I’m not saying you don’t sometimes just need “warm bodies” to fill certain areas. But for major ministry goals, it is essential to have people who will help you achieve those goals instead of deter you.

4. Remember that the administrative gift is designed to help people.

I understand that you can’t allow people to control the vision of the church. That’s the leader’s job. But we leaders always have to remember that love must be the foundation. As the apostle Paul said, “The greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Even when we disagree, people must understand that we love them. Even when some don’t believe it, we must know that we have done everything in a spirit of love.

Administration is a spiritual gift. God uses it to advance his kingdom on this earth. We must either develop this gift ourselves or ask God to lead us to someone who has this gift, so God’s kingdom can move forward where we minister.

Brent Hanson is pastor of New Song Community Church, Wolverine Lake, Michigan.

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