I’ve always struggled with organisation and admin. In Singapore, when I lived there, I would be asked by Christians I had just met “do you speak in tongues?” “No”, I’d reply, “not yet, but I am earnestly praying for the gift of administration.” I’ve still not been given the gift of tongues, but I think years of prayer about admin might be being answered.
The problem I’ve had, in part, was believing the lies I told myself. “You can’t do it, you’re dyslexic, you don’t think in detail, you are a big picture thinker, the job of vicar is too big for one man, your expectations are too high, this stress is part of the package and you just need to press on and take regular breaks, perhaps on the golf course.” I didn’t recognise until recently that these lies were lies. I had read too many articles which reinforced the stories I told myself about myself. For example, there was the editorial in Christianity Magazine a couple of years ago, a well-meaning piece which aimed to make congregations back-off their vicar or pastor, to love and support him as he is; either a big picture thinker or a detailed man, and to do this, congregations, so the editor said, need to recognising that vicars are rarely both big picture and detailed thinkers at the same time. I believed the lie. I would also watch well organised people to try to learn from them but I would conclude that I could never think or work like them, God hadn’t wired me together that way.
The problem with believing the lies is that they produce a lack of confidence which creates a constant sense of stress. “I’m not doing my job well, I’m not up to this, I’ve got so much to do, I am sure to have forgotten something.” This lack of confidence affects everything from prayer life, to family life, to preaching and so church life suffers too as my mind was always thinking “Organisation, organisation, organisation.” They key is to stop believing the lies.
So what is the truth? First, if God has called me to preach Christ, which he has, then he’ll provide the means to build his church, either by supplying me with the gifts which are needed (1 Cor 12:11) or by building the body in such a way that the strengths and weaknesses of different people work together well (1 Cor 12:14-20). Either way, it is God who will build the church and so I am freed from the stress of seeing the chruch grow. I am free from trying to be good at everything, in a sense, to be who I am. I am not excused from seeking the gifts required, through prayer and training, and I trust God will provide them.
As it happens, as I write, God might be answering prayer in both ways. I am getting the grasp of admin, as my recent posts on David Allen’s book reveal. Thanks to Allen, I no longer believe the lies that I can’t do admin and I am no longer stressed about organising myself and church. We have also made an appointment to church life of someone who is naturally well organised and who will bring an extra dimension to a busy church, strengths and weaknesses. Time will tell if God will put the gifts in place and his church will be built. In the mean time, I’ll remain faithful to Christ, preach him above all and earnestly seek the gifts I need (1 Cor 12:31).