When I am out visiting churches and telling about my work in Lesotho with Global Ministries, as is the case right now, there is one question that used to be very easy to answer. That same question is now one I almost dread! For fifteen years I taught high school math and bible at one of the high schools of the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA).
Question: “What do you do over there?” Answer: “I teach math and religion.” This short answer was easily understood and never required clarification. However, for the last couple of years I can no longer get by with such a short answer. My reply of, “I work in the Planning Office of the LECSA”, is rather unsatisfying to most people and so I have to explain further about my work. And while my job does have a side that involves working on projects for the church, there is much about my job that makes it an “administrative” job.
Somehow, telling someone that you work in administration rarely sounds like admirable or valuable work. All the more so when you are a missionary. Working in “Admin” just doesn’t seem to rank very high on the scales of “real” or “important” work. However, the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church in I Corinthians 12:27-28 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church, God has appointed…those with gifts of administration…” True, this gift of administration does not appear early on Paul’s list, but it also is not the last one! It is next to last, but let’s not quibble…it is ahead of speaking in tongues! Not all translations use the word “administration”. Sometimes is comes through as “guidance”, “leadership” or “governance”.
Be that as it may, in any organization, it helps to have people who know how to get things done and the way to get things done, especially in an organized and efficient manner. And so we can give thanks for those in our churches who have such gifts, the gifts of administration!
It is usually the case that the people who appear front and center in the life of the church have great support staff in the background which makes it all possible. If there were no support staff, those people would have to do the “admin” stuff themselves. So having support staff helps to free up time for those other folks. And while people on the outside may not realize the valuable role played by these people, those who directly benefit from their services know better. Paul’s words offer an important corrective about the value of administrative work. He reminds us that all of us have a role to play. Everyone, including office staff members, is part of the body of Christ! Let us give thanks for those blessed with the gift of administration.
Mark Behle serves with the Lesotho Evangelical Church. He is working to identify development projects, assist the church in preparing project proposals and coordinating project implementation. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciple's Mission Fund, Our Church's Wider Mission and your special gifts.