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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Organize - Or Pay The Price!

organized closet

by Dennis Pollock

When it comes to exciting Bible topics, the concept of organization would have to rank pretty low. We love seminars on faith, and great crowds come out to hear how they can overcome past emotional wounds. But whoever would get excited about the idea of being organized?

Exciting or not, the truth is that Christians often pay a high price for lack of organization. Pastors who have a burning vision for “taking their city,” but who neglect the mundane details of the day-to-day running of the church will usually neither “take the city” nor build their church. Home group leaders, Sunday school teachers, Christian music groups, homeless shelters, food pantries… you name it, any ministry worth doing is going to take some serious organizing, if it is to be effective and reach its full potential. And it is not only ministries, but families as well that desperately need organization. Let two unorganized, play-by-ear, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants people get married and one of them is going to have to step up and apply some discipline and organization to their home, or there will be chaos, rising tempers, and total frustration.

Contrary to what you might think, the Bible actually has a lot to say on this subject. One beautiful example of this is found in the life of the Old Testament character named Joseph. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph ends up working on a large farm for a man named Potiphar. As his master watches the young Jew, he realizes that this young man is both intelligent and hard working, and soon perceives that everything he touches turns to gold. Potiphar immediately promotes Joseph to the top position over his entire estate. From that point on, Joseph runs things. And do they ever run! Potiphar never had it so good; the Bible tells us that “the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field” (Genesis 39:5).

Administration 101

Joseph spends several years as Potiphar’s foreman, learning the ins and outs of running a large estate. He is being schooled in Administration 101. Then his boss’ wife takes a liking to their handsome young slave and attempts to seduce him. When Joseph refuses, she accuses him of assaulting her. Joseph finds himself thrown into an Egyptian prison. But like the beachball that keeps bobbing to the surface of the water, Joseph so distinguishes himself in jail that once again he is put in charge of everything. The Bible says, “And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing” (Genesis 39:22). Once again Joseph is studying and practicing administration and organization. He is learning to run a large concern, and with God’s help he does his work masterfully. Here in this miserable prison, Joseph is getting his Master’s and Doctor’s degree in administration. A young spoiled, rich Jewish kid is turning into a master administrator.

Finally, in the providence and timing of God, Pharaoh has his dreams about fat and skinny cows, and Joseph is called. Joseph has learned his lessons well, and is now graduating to play with the big boys. Joseph rightly interprets Pharaoh’s dreams to mean that seven years of plenty will be immediately followed by seven years of famine. But he doesn’t stop there! After giving the interpretation, Joseph’s administrative gift goes into overdrive, and he begins to tell Pharaoh what must be done. Now Joseph is no longer acting as interpreter, but as administrator. He tells Pharaoh:

Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine. (Genesis 41:33-36)

Pharaoh can hardly believe his ears. Not only is this young man dead-on concerning the dreams, but he possesses a clear head for organization and planning. The “discerning and wise man” that Joseph urges Pharaoh to choose to head this program can be no one but Joseph himself! Pharaoh tells Joseph something which is beginning to sound familiar to the young man: “You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you” (Genesis 41:40). Running Potiphar’s estate and the prison had been merely the warm-up acts. Serving as Pharaoh’s right hand man and directing the greatest nation in the world was surely the ultimate purpose of the One who “does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.”

Joseph was not a preacher, nor was he a teacher. He was a man incredibly gifted in keeping everything running smoothly. His was the gift of organization and administration. He loved working with the fine details, fixing small problems before they become major ones, overseeing large numbers of people with a hand that was neither too firm nor too lax. In today’s world he would have been a great corporation president or CEO.

Jesus - Spirit-filled, but Organized

Feeding multitudes

This is no small gift. Sometimes we evangelicals are so enamored with preachers, visionaries, and charismatic leaders that we greatly undervalue the administrators, those diligent men and women who take great delight in making sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed. Some suppose that organization, planning, and methodical ways are contrary to the Spirit-led life. But in truth they complement such a life. The most Spirit-led Man that ever lived, the Lord Jesus was a methodical and organized man. The Bible tells us that Jesus went through the villages of Israel “in a circuit,” teaching. He sent out His disciples in pairs to prepare the way before Him in the cities where He planned to preach. This speaks of methodical planning. When He determined to multiply the fish and loaves of bread for the huge crowds, He first had them seated in groups of fifties and hundreds. Our Lord was not about to let His miraculous provision turn into some riotous feeding frenzy. Everything must be done orderly, just the way God likes it.

Moses & Jethro

When Moses’ father-in-law Jethro came to see Moses and his millions of Hebrew followers as they wandered through the wilderness, he was appalled at what he saw. Moses was spending his entire days listening to the problems, complaints, and disputes of the Israelites. It was exhausting for poor Moses, and frustrating for the people, who had to stand in line for hours or perhaps days just to get an audience with their leader. Jethro quickly sized up the situation and recommended that Moses divide the Israelites into small groups and then delegate leaders over each group. He told Moses to choose godly, honest men who could be “rulers of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands.” Then most of the disputes and complaints could be settled by these leaders, and only the most difficult cases would come before Moses. It didn’t take Moses long to see the wisdom in this, and he soon put it into practice. Moses was a great man of God, and had a relationship with God that was totally unique, but in matters of administration, his father-in-law seemed a little more astute than he. A little organization and delegation made the prophet’s life a whole lot easier.

Wesley & Whitefield

Wesley & WhitefieldThe benefits of organization are powerfully demonstrated in the lives and ministries of the two British evangelists of the 1700’s, John Wesley and George Whitefield. Of the two, Whitefield was by far the greater preacher, but Wesley is far more famous today. Both loved Jesus, both traveled extensively and preached as evangelists, but in terms of follow up, they were radically different. George Whitefield was content to win souls and trust that the Lord would establish them in the faith and in the local churches. He steadfastly refused to start a movement, or establish any type of meetings for his converts to attend. He felt this was the more spiritual approach, and delighted to say, “Let the name of Whitefield perish, but Christ be glorified.”

Wesley took a vastly different approach. Possessing a razor-sharp gift for administration and seeing the desperate need for the converts to be taught the fundamentals of Christianity and established together in local fellowships, he organized what he called “class meetings” everywhere he went. The new converts were placed under the leadership of mature believers, and met together constantly to encourage each other and to learn the ways of Christ. This could have been done by the local churches, but in those days the Anglican Church was for the most part as dead as a doornail, and utterly unfit to deal with red-hot new babies in Christ, born in the fires of revival.

Today, the movement that was birthed through the powerful and anointed ministries of these two men is known as the “Wesleyan Revival,” not the “Whitefieldian Revival.” The reason is that Wesley’s insistence on organizing and nurturing the new converts resulted in fruit that lasted. Whitfield's "preach and move on" style did not have close to the lasting impact of Wesley's more organized approach. Even Whitefield himself came to see this eventually. According to historian Adam Clark he told a man, “My brother Wesley acted wisely—the souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in class (organized small groups), and thus preserved the fruits of his labor. This I neglected, and my people are a rope of sand.”

Incorporating Organization in our Lives

The ability to keep one’s life well organized is in one sense a gift. Some people naturally do this, and take great pleasure in it. For others it is a struggle. In my own life, organization never came naturally. I was always far more the visionary than the administrator. But over the years I have seen again and again that the failure to organize comes with a high price tag. No man, business, ministry, or family will ever achieve their maximum potential without a significant degree of organization. Out of necessity and a distaste for the kind of shame and failure to which poor organization always leads, I have forced myself to become organized, at least in many areas.

When Jesus provided great numbers of fish for Peter early in His ministry, we are told that the nets broke. They were unable to handle the large numbers of fish Jesus had provided. This is often the situation that occurs when God pours out His Spirit on His people. We rejoice in the blessings of God, we are thrilled at the harvest of new souls coming into the kingdom, but because we are insufficiently organized and prepared, our nets break and many souls slip through the holes. After His resurrection, however, Jesus again provided a miraculous catch of fish for Peter and his friends. This time the Bible says, “Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” This is the ideal situation: a large catch and nets that hold.

When it comes to any ministry that we do in Christ’ name, we must recognize that the atoning death of our Lord Jesus is far too significant, and the value of souls infinitely too precious for us to give any less than our best in keeping our nets strong. But even in the more secular areas of life, we will save ourselves a world of grief if we get a handle on this business of organization. If you find yourself hopelessly disorganized, find someone who is the opposite of you and convince them to join your business or ministry. If you are single and pathetic in this area, it might be wise to ask God to lead you to a born administrator to marry. Perhaps this is one of the reasons God made opposites attract: we sloppy visionaries and dreamers desperately need practical, sensible, neat, cautious, detail-conscious spouses with both feet planted firmly on the ground.

Christ will do it for us and in us. He who is the ultimate Administrator will work in us and provide all we need to keep our lives, families, and ministries humming along decently and in order.

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