When I first left my employment in the National Health Service, where I was leading a research team in Rehabilitation Engineering that included designing artificial limbs for Thalidomide-damaged children, in order to work for Terry Virgo, my role was to serve him and what came to be known as Newfrontiers as his administrator. When he invited me he said “I don’t know what an administrator does but I know I need one”. My response was “I don’t know either but ‘yes’ “! So I then needed to look into the scriptures to find out what Biblical Administration is and how an administrator operates.
There are of course many scriptures demonstrating the administrative gift, particularly in the Old Testament – Nehemiah, Daniel, Joseph etc. In the New Testament I tended to focus on those areas attributed to the deaconing function and quickly came across Acts 6:1-7 where men were chosen to resolve a conflict between local widows and immigrants who were not apparently being treated equably when it came to the distribution of welfare.
Serving in one’s gifting
There are many lessons that can be drawn from these verses; I have dealt with these on other occasions. But I felt God highlight one particular point to me which became my plumbline for all the years I served Terry. In Acts 6:2 we read that the apostles recognised that if they gave themselves to resolving this problem they would be distracted from ‘preaching the word of God’. So they appointed men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit etc. to handle the task. The result was that ‘the word of God continued to increase, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem’.
The revelation that came to me was the importance of the apostles serving within their gifting not only for their own fulfilment but also for the benefit of many others whom they influenced. My guideline from then on was to take from Terry anything that did not fall into the category of being in his gifting and calling.
Further, I felt God impress on me that this is a principle which should apply across the church; every member should be released to fulfil his or her gifting and calling. But what I quickly came to realise was that people often did not recognise what their gifting or calling was. With this in mind I worked with a good friend, Valerie Gillam (who did most of the work – thanks Valerie!), to develop a course, Discover and Serve, to help people identify their skills and gifting, among other things, and find a place to serve in their church.
Over the next few weeks I shall be writing about this course. My prayer is that it will result in people, and as a result churches, serving even more effectively in their God-given gifting and calling to advance the Kingdom of God in our generation.