A Message from Pastor J.C. Austin: “Kubernesis” – A Gift of the Spirit

Did you know that administration is a spiritual gift? When we talk about spiritual gifts, it’s usually things that feel a little more…spiritual. When I was working in theological education before coming to First Pres, I was a teacher and consultant on congregational leadership, and I worked with many pastors and church boards in doing so. Many of them complained about the work of administration: organizing the people, resources, and structures of the church to fulfill the church’s mission as faithfully and effectively as possible. They saw administration as a sort of “necessary evil,” something unpleasant that had to be done in order to do the “real” work of ministry.

That understanding of administration is, quite simply, un-Biblical. Administration is actually listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit in Paul’s famous passage on the subject in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians, a portion of which we will read in worship this coming Sunday. Later in that passage, Paul lists “kubernesis” as one of the gifts of the Spirit, which is often translated as “governance,” “leadership,” or “administration,” but literally means the work of piloting a ship. Think about that for a moment. A ship’s pilot has to read the depths, winds, and currents the ship faces in order to keep the ship on course to its destination as quickly and safely as possible. That is not just a spiritual gift, it is an absolutely necessary one for the ship to fulfill its purpose!

The same is true in the church, which is why the Spirit gives it to people in the church: to ensure the church has the gifts it needs to fulfill its purpose. We are blessed here at First Pres to have a whole group of leaders with the gift of “kubernesis,” administration, for the well-being of the church.

Earlier this week, we welcomed a new one to our church when Andréa Wells (her first name is pronounced “ahn-DREY-ah”) began her work on staff as our new part-time Business Manager. Andréa brings a wealth of experience along with her spiritual gifts. She is coming to us from a corporate background that included audit work. She is also a dedicated Presbyterian with a heart for mission, including revitalizing and leading a food bank in her home church of the United Presbyterian Church of Alpha in Phillipsburg, NJ. So be sure to welcome Andréa the next time you’re in the church offices during the week.

And we are blessed that she is joined by a remarkable team of leaders with gifts of administration who help organize our budget, finances, endowments, property, and more, so that this church has the resources it needs to fulfill the calling which God has given us. And I want to say a special thank you to Elders Melinda Stitt and Phil Clauser who serve as our Treasurers, and who have essentially been functioning as volunteer Business Managers while that staff position was open.

I am thrilled that we have a completed staffing plan with Andréa’s arrival, and even more so that this is a church where the staff equips and supports the members for ministry. One of the clearest refrains from the congregation when I arrived was that they wanted to continue being a “member-driven church,” which is what the church is always supposed to be. Your pastors and staff are delighted to be partners in that ministry, and are eager to embrace what God has in store for us!

Grace and Peace,