As we wrap up the year, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the importance of the roles you and others in support positions play on your church staff. While we tend to focus on the importance of the front-line ministry workers, we downplay or ignore the roles of others who serve—including ourselves.
This month, I want to remind you of some well-known Scripture passages. I encourage you, as you ponder them, to consider how they relate to you and to your work: maybe in ways that you have encouraged others but never truly applied to yourself.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11. This passage discusses the different gifts of the Spirit given to believers, and it reminds us that they all come from the Lord. I especially like verse 6: “There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.” It seems to me like God knew some people would dispute whose gifts were more important, or that there would be individuals who would see less value in their role than in others’ roles. Remember where the gifts came from—and who is at work in each of us.
1 Corinthians 12:15-26. Consider how the first part of this passage reminds us of how important we are. We tend to downplay our own role. Paul knows that, and he deals with it right away before pointing out how foolish it would be if we were all the same. He ends by addressing the need to appreciate the gifts of others and not to discount their importance. I especially appreciate verse 22: “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” I’m sure there are days when you see your role of finance worker as “weaker” than someone whose job is leading worship or preparing a sermon. Don’t!
Matthew 25:14-30. These verses seem especially fitting to me as we discuss church administration. The resources that are available in some of your roles seem so small. It’s hard to get enough of a budget to adequately staff for accounting, human resources, and IT needs. You may have to plead to get education opportunities approved for those in support roles, while a worship conference might not even get a second glance by a supervisor before receiving approval. Yet I know you take those limited resources of time, talent, and budget and multiply them many times over. You attend training and take what you learn back to the staff. You look for ways to encourage employees in a nonfinancial way. You use volunteers where others may have the luxury of a paid staff position. You are taking two bags of gold and turning them into four!
My challenge and encouragement to you
Here is my challenge and encouragement to you from Scripture with my own comments and additions in brackets:
Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters [or church members or weekend attendees].”
1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink [fellowship] or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always [even when someone quits]. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all [even with the next interruption]. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything [like lower school or preschool enrollment than budgeted], but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [Paul had to add that!], present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Of course, I do not know you personally—but having worked with churches for many years, I do understand the difficulties and discouragement you can encounter. Know that I am proud of you and the impact your ministry has on people each and every day. I like to point out that if bills aren’t paid, payroll isn’t processed, computers aren’t fixed, and deposits aren’t made, it is likely that nothing else will happen in your congregation.
I am not a theologian. I may not have everything perfectly within context. However, I do believe we can take the above passages and be encouraged to go forth and serve God well. Go answer the phone. Reply to another email. Schedule several meetings even when rooms aren’t even available. Get the final budget approved. Whatever you do, remember that while others may not even know the extent of the efforts you put in, the Lord sees and knows. May you be found faithful in your calling and find joy in living it out each day!