- …If God has given you leadership ability (προΐστημι/proistēmi), take the responsibility seriously.… (Rom 12:8)
- …those who have the gift of leadership (κυβέρνησις/kybernēsis, (1 Cor 12:28)
Nature of the Gifts
Leadership and administration are related; in fact, the New Living Translation renders both Greek terms as “leadership.” Paul’s term in Romans ( προΐστημι/proistēmi) means “to go first,” “preside,” “direct,” or “lead.” So I like the translation, “if you are put in charge, you must be conscientious” (Rom 12:8 NJB). Indeed, because the term so often occurs in contexts that involve providing care and protection for those you lead, it almost comes to mean a responsibility to care for.
The term occurs eight times in the New Testament, all in Pauline literature. A key idea is that those whom the church appoints to direct its pastoral and deaconal ministries (1 Tim 5:17; Titus 3:8, 14) must first show themselves able by doing a good job of leading and caring for their own families (1 Tim 3:4–5, 12). Such people are worthy of honor (1 Thess 5:12) and even obedience (Heb 13:17), but not as people who lord it over others, rather as servants (Luke 22:26; 1 Pet 5:3).
Paul’s term in 1 Corinthians 12 is κυβέρνησις/kybernēsis, which has to do with administrative and managerial skills. In secular Greek literature it was used for a ship’s helmsman, and in the LXX of Proverbs, it referred to wise guidance (Prov 1:5; 11:14; 24:6). The older English translations opted for “government” (KJV, ASV, GNV) and newer translations opt for “management” or “administration” (NASB, NIV, NKJV, RSV, ESV) or just “leadership” (NET, NRSV, NLT).
Exercizing the Gifts
I would say the men picked to function as the church’s first deacons would have had the gift (Acts 6). And of course, Paul told his congregations to look for good household managers to appoint as bishops and deacons (1 Tim 3:4–5, 12).
These gifts of leadership and administration are especially necessary for ruling elders at local, regional, and national levels, such as pastors, elders, and bishops. They would also be useful for those who organize the various diaconal works at all those levels, from the local church benevolence committee to the national offices of a denomination or its international compassionate ministries.
In the New Testament church, it involved such matters as the distribution of aid to the widows, which was the first task of deacons (Acts 6). It would also come into play in such matters as the “binding and loosing” of church discipline (Matt 16:19; 18:18–19; John 20:23) and the ordaining of ministers and sending of missionaries.