Ministries, Charisms, Fruits – 9 Administration

Ministries, Charisms, Fruits – 9 Administration

Administration is an inescapable part of most of our lives and one that is often likely to raise a grimace at the mere mention of the word. The phone calls that have to be returned, the emails that have to be sent, the meetings we have to attend, rotas to organise and budgets to complete are all part of everyday life for many of us. This, of course, all takes time, patience and organisation. It is easy for us to lose sight of the ‘bigger picture’ and feel overwhelmed by administrative affairs and forget the true purpose behind it all. We may even hark back to a time when everything seemed so much simpler …

In religious life there is a particular temptation is to see these day-to-day affairs not as simply taxing but as an actual impediment to the spiritual dimension of our lives. In 1 Corinthians 12:28, however, we learn that this is far from the view we should hold and that the spiritual gift of administration is indeed vital in building, strengthening and maintaining the Church on earth:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

It is clear from this passage that it is the Spirit that furnishes us with the ability to build up the Kingdom and that administration has been a vital component of the Church since its very inception. We must also recognise that there are those especially granted with the gift of being able to administer effectively. Whilst it is vital that we all play our part we must recognise those among us with special talents in this area, and ensure that they are encouraged and productively employed and supported, for without them the task of building the Body of Christ would suffer immeasurably. It is important, therefore, that we remember our duty to use our spiritual gifts to carry out Christ’s plans on earth.

Prudence, as a cardinal virtue, is essential for an effective administrator. As St Thomas makes clear in the Summa this virtue of the practical intellect is required to make the assessments that take us from the end desired through possible means of choice and thence to command or precept. In other words deliberation, judgement and command are vital in effective administration. If we can cultivate this virtue in particular we shall find, with God’s grace that we are ever more able to labour productively as Christ’s co-workers in helping to build the reality of his kingdom on earth.

Graham Hunt OP