The Gift of Administration

by Donald Senior (2016), reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

Called and trained as an academic (New Testament), Senior was invited to the administrative position of president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, a graduate school of theology; he came ‘to see both biblical scholarship and the work of administration as expression of (his) vocation as a Christian.  Both (are) deeply rooted in the nature of the gospel and the mission entrusted to the church by the risen Christ’ (x-xi).

This book does not describe how ’to do’ administration but to see the intersection of the people of G-d with their exercise of administration.  Administration, like preaching, teaching or healing, is also an expression of the gospel’ (xxi).  The Gift of Administration is not a ‘how to’ book but a ‘why’ book, the Christian rationale for the work of administration (xxvii).

Senior’s giftedness in New Testament thinking provides powerful biblical insight into the area of administration (whether this would be the large scale, ie president or dean roles, or the pastoral calling.  (One chapter deals with the myth of the church’s change from that of an original, purely spiritual charismatic and non-institutional church degrading into an institutional  church essentially alien in form and spirit from the church Jesus intended’ (p 222).

Senior has  good theological insight in dealing with administrative components; he emphasizes the function of mission statements in focusing self awareness, the church as community, the role of leadership (‘institutional leadership is the ability to influence others toward the mission of a specific institution’, p 25), the generation of finances.

Ch. 6 deals with ‘Habits of the Heart’, where he lists l2 virtues necessary for good administration and l5 ‘maladies’ (cited by Pope Francis), identifying ‘the illness to be healed and the virtue to be cultivated from the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus and to carry out one’s discipleship’ (p 153).

A wonderful book of Christian graces for our Christian virtues.