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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two)

Don Stewart :: What Is the Gift of Administration?

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What Is the Gift of Administration? (Ruling, Leadership)

The Various Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Part Two) – Question 5

The Bible speaks of a God-given spiritual gift that can be developed–the gift of administration or administrating. This is also called ruling or leadership.

Paul wrote of this to the Corinthians about this gift in a list with other spiritual gifts.

And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:28 ESV).

There is a gift of administrating.

In another place, Paul speaks of the gift of ruling or leadership. He wrote the following words to the Romans.

If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly (Romans 12:8 NLT).

There is a gift of ruling.

Are There Two Gifts or One?

There is uncertainty as to whether this refers to the same spiritual gift, or two similar gifts. Paul uses two different Greek words to describe these gifts. Whether or not they are one gift or two, there is overlap between them. Because they are similar in nature we will treat them as one gift. From Scripture, we can make the following observations.

It Is the Ability to Rule or Lead

Administration, or leadership, involves the ability to rule in the church and to govern the things of God. The Bible says that believers should be held accountable to these God-appointed leaders. We read in Hebrews.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you (Hebrews 13:17 NRSV).

It should be a joy to work with godly leaders.

Leadership Is a Gift That Pastors and Elders Would Have

All who exercise authority in the church should have the gift of leadership. The various leaders in the local assembly, as well as those who have other positions of leadership in the church, should have the corresponding gift. However we should not necessarily assume that all of those in leadership position have this particular gift.

Unfortunately there are some individuals who have placed themselves, or have been placed, in a position of leadership in the church who do not have the God-given gift. Once this becomes evident the person should step down from their leadership capacity. Because the decisions of a Christian leader affect many others, this is one gift that should only be exercised by those who have the spiritual gift.

Leaders Are to Be Shepherds

Scripture points out that administrator, church leader, are to be shepherds, not tyrants. The Apostle John provides an example of a person who did not exercise proper leadership. He wrote the following words about a man named Diotrephes.

I wrote to the church. But Diotrephes likes to be the number-one leader, and he won’t pay any attention to us. So if I come, I will remind him of how he has been attacking us with gossip. Not only has he been doing this, but he refuses to welcome any of the Lord’s followers who come by. And when other church members want to welcome them, he puts them out of the church (3 John 1:9-10 CEV).

The leaders are shepherds in God’s church. They are to look after the flock. Diotrephes is an example of wrong leadership. Note that John said that this man did not pay attention to those in authority over him, the apostles. This is not the way church leaders should act.

Right Leadership Prevents Disorders

Right leadership prevents disorders in the church of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the Thessalonians about how the leadership keeps the church running smoothly.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12 NIV).

Correct leadership in the church is crucial to keep things running in an orderly manner.

Leaders Should Be Examples

Simon Peter encouraged the leadership of the church to be examples to others. He wrote the following commandment to those who are leaders.

Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example (1 Peter 5:3 NLT).

Again, we have the contrast of those who lord over people and those who lead by example. The godly shepherd leads by example.

In the Book of Acts, we find that those who lead must be filled with the Holy Spirit. When choosing men to be in a position of leadership the following qualifications were given.

Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task (Acts 6:3 NRSV).

These men had to have good standing with the other believers. In other words, their reputation among the believers was excellent.

There is something else. A leader must be able to manage his own household. Paul wrote the following to Timothy about qualifications for leaders.

He must manage his own family well. His children should respectfully obey him. (If a man doesn’t know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:4,5 God’s Word).

Our human nature always wants to put our own interests first. A true leader, however, will always put the needs of others above their own needs.

There Is a Warning to Leaders

In listing the qualifications of a leader in First Timothy 3:1-13, the Apostle Paul included a warning about who should have the position. He said.

He must not be a new Christian, or he might become arrogant like the devil and be condemned (1 Timothy 3:6 God’s Word).

This warning is vital to church order. An individual may have the ability to administrate in business, but that does not mean that he can or should administrate in the church. God’s ways are not the ways of the world, and certain practices that are routinely done in the business world have no place in the church.

Moreover, a new believer should not be given the authority over ruling the things of God no matter how talented he may be in the business world.

There Are Various Degrees of Leadership

God has given this gift in various degrees. While God has made some leaders in the church, He has chosen others to be leaders of leaders. Here is where we must be very careful. God, and only God, is the one who designates believers in capacity of leadership. He also appoints those who have the greater ability to lead.

Consequently, we must always make certain that those who are in a leadership capacity in the church are there because of the calling and placement of God – not because of the selfish desires of some human being.

Summary – Question 5
What Is the Gift of Administration? (Ruling, Leadership)

The Bible speaks of the spiritual gift of administration or administering. It is perhaps the same gift that Paul calls ruling or leadership. While Paul uses a different word in the Book of Romans than he does in the Book of Corinthians he may be describing the same gift. If there are two gifts they are certainly similar in nature.

An administrator has a gift that preserves order in the body of Christ. He must exercise the gift to rule the church as a leader, not as a tyrant. The gift can and should be developed, as should the administrator’s growth as a Christian.

A true Christian leader is one that God has raised up. He will make decisions with the best interests of the church, the body of Christ, in mind. It is not a responsibility which a new believer should have.

We should also note that the Lord has also raised up leaders of leaders in His church. These are individuals which God has placed in positions of administration or authority over other Christian leaders. It is essential that we recognize that this is something which the Lord alone does. Indeed, it is not a position for which a person volunteers or works himself up to. It is God alone who puts these leaders in these positions.

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