God doesn’t need us. We need him.
Don’t get the roles reversed. We are not indispensable. He is.
This is an essential reminder for all of us — and especially those of us in heavily administrative and “executive” roles. We executives are supposed to execute, after all.
But as Christians, we know how finite, dependent, contingent we are. And we need to be reminded of it regularly and guard ourselves from subtly beginning to operate as if we really can execute on our tasks all by our lonesome, without the constant help of our God.
Toward a Christian Executive Ethic
I’m often asked how I handle my role as “executive minister” when we have more than 100 staff on three campuses. Here’s a short biblical framework through which I’m able to answer, and keep myself functioning day in and day out, not just as an executive, but as a distinctly Christian executive. It’s twenty biblical texts, arranged in sixteen principles.
1. God is the chief worker.
He is decisively the main worker at your church and in your life. And the one who does the work should get the glory.
God ordains. He executes what he ordains. He is supreme in administration.
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
2. When I am working, God is working.
When I am working, it is because God is working. My work is owing to God’s work.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12–13)
By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
3. When I am not working, God is still at work.
I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. (Psalm 3:5)
4. If God doesn’t work, I labor in vain.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1)
5. If I do the work of the Lord, I never labor in vain.
My beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
6. God-centered work is not work with God as an appendage or afterthought.
He is the core, the root, the source, the origin, the power, the point of it all.
From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24–25)
7. The chief credential of the God-centered administrator is: God.
God is “for us” in carrying out his plan, not necessarily our own. His enabling grace is more crucial than our academic credentials or years of experience, though we do not disparage such credentials supplied in his kind providence.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
8. God-centeredness implies, requires, and builds humility.
What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1 Corinthians 4:7)
9. If God is the main worker, ask him to work.
You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2)
Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” (Mark 9:29)
10. God-centered administrators and executives recruit and unleash competent, trustworthy people who fear God and are not driven by greed.
Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. (Exodus 18:21)
11. God-centered administrators affirm God-given gifts and character wherever they spot them.
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. (1 Peter 2:13–14)
12. God-centered administrators remember the Golden Rule.
Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
13. God-centered administrators pursue true greatness.
The greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)
14. God-centered administrators are resourced continually in the Scriptures.
Where do God-centered administrators get their best ideas? God-centered administrators are tethered to the Bible, and they unleash it, because it’s true and powerful.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. (Psalm 119:98–100)
15. God-centered administration is not a technique, but a life.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (John 15:4)
16. God-centered administrators express gratitude, in particular to Jesus.
The ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. (2 Corinthians 9:12)
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)