Organizational Development

Where do we find organizational development in the Bible?  Shouldn’t spiritual leaders be devoted primarily to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4)?  How risky is it to bring business practices into Christian ministry?

Like me you have probably heard these and related concerns expressed when looking outside of the Bible for principles and practices to guide our ministry.  You might personally have strong feelings on this topic yourself.  This next series of blogs will look at the life of Joseph whom I call an empowering organizer.  My hope is that we will see how Christian leaders can give a healthy balance to organizational leadership by recognizing the value of both biblical teaching and life wisdom.

Let me suggest a couple definitions to anchor how I understand organization and development.  Most basically, organization refers to an organized body of people with a particular purpose.  It implies a system where people function in some way together for a common cause.  If you are wondering how organization differs from team it seems largely in terms of size and complexity.  Although our word “organic” is embedded within the word organization, and is rooted in matter that makes up all living “organisms”, rarely do we talk about an organic organization.  These concepts are more often viewed as opposites.  Perhaps this reality needs a correction?

Development implies a cause/effect relationship.  If certain resources are applied and sufficient time is allowed, the desired result is likely.  When development is coupled with organization, this refers to the processes of human systems (formal and informal groups, organizations, communities, and societies) that are intended to increase effectiveness and health using a variety of disciplines.  No organization (or organism) is static—it is either growing or declining in health.  So, I suggest that organizational development is not a bad word but a very good one when viewed from the perspective of how to progressively increase health.

Enough with definitions and theory!  The practical reality is that any structural unit (as big as The Navigators or as small as a family) is either life giving or life draining; either enhancing our Calling and Vision or diminishing them; either a place to thrive or at best to survive.  Healthy individuals in an unhealthy organization will either live with frustration or leave.  Unhealthy individuals in a healthy organization will either be healed or feel awkward and leave.

Organizational development is all about enabling people in a given place to be nurtured and released to make their best contribution.   Organizational development aligns people with their calling, gifting, and divine design, so that both the organization and the individuals can synergistically accomplish their valued outcomes.

Where can we turn in the Bible to learn about healthy organizational development?  I suggest that a great staring point is by looking at the life of Joseph.  Here we find a system that was developed to bring much life and health to masses of people.  In upcoming blogs we will put on OD glasses as we reflect on the empowering organizer, Joseph.

Next Blog: Joseph listened with understanding.



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3 responses to “Organizational Development

  1. Костя

    Looking forward to learn from the example of Joseph.

    • Hello Friend. Thanks for your comment. Your question is a very good one that I have reflected on for some time. I hope to show in the next few blogs how I observe what we call organizational development in and through the life of Joseph. I will value your assessment from what I post. Also, I come from a perspective that we are not expected (commanded) to only do what the Bible specifically states but rather are free (by the leading of the Holy Spirit) to do whatever can help advance the Gospel and declare God’s glory to the nations. Having structures and systems that facilitate people to live their calling is a good thing to me.

      • Костя

        I like your point, Tom, on that “we are not expected to only do what the Bible specifically states…” This is a fresh perspective for me. Looking forward to learn more from your blog.


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