A Non-Christian Administrator in a Christian School – An Awkward Situation!
According to Campbell et al. (1983), an educational administrator is a manager of an institution which is designed to foster teaching and learning. To them, an educational administrator supervises and enhances the teaching and learning activities in his institution that probably has a wide range of clients, from nursery school children through graduate and professional school students. As far as they are concerned, teachers deal directly with students; hence it is relatively easy to see how they may contribute to teaching and learning. Since many administrative activities do not deal directly with students, the relationships of these activities to teaching and learning are not always apparent. They conclude that the varied activities of administrators should in the end be designed to enhance teaching and learning.
A Christian educational administrator enhances teaching and learning that are rooted and grounded in the Biblical principles (Lowrie, 1984). According to Lowrie, an administrator in a Christian school must be a Christian. I completely support Lowrie’s position; I think it is awkward, and unscriptural to allow a non-Christian to head a Christian school (1 Cor. 6: 1-10). Where are the educated and responsible Christians in our society? If we believe that running a Christian school is a ministry; why on earth must we allow an unbeliever to be an administrator of a Christian school? How can a non-Christian administrator in a Christian school enhance teaching and learning that are rooted and grounded in the Biblical principles as Lowrie suggests? Hear what the Scripture says, “I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers” (1 Cor. 6: 5-6). How can the students under the authority of a non-Christian administrator grow spiritually? No matter how an argument is drawn out to support this unscriptural position. It is totally ridiculous, unjustifiable, and senseless. Lowrie claims that unless the framework of knowledge and learning is thoroughly Christian, the result of education will not be Christian. What a true statement! To him, a Christian administrator must enhance the education that is taught on the foundation of Christian philosophy where students are taught as spiritual beings not just physical, mental, or social.
Secondly, students are prepared for eternal life, not just for their earthly one. Thirdly, students are taught to relate to the God who made them and sustains them and for whose purpose and pleasure they were created (Rev. 4: 11). According to Lowrie, for any student to have access to this type of Biblical principles oriented method of learning; this is why the Christian schools are established.
Lowrie emphasizes the fact that the Christian school administrator must grasp this concept of Christian philosophy and be able to develop the program of the school so that it is accomplishing the goals demanded by this philosophy. To him, this will require an in-depth knowledge of the Bible, an acquaintance with philosophical thought, an interest in and growing knowledge about all the areas of study. Lowrie observes that while a study of the Bible does not have to be formal to be in-depth, formal study is a must for most Christian educators. It is desirable that the Christian school administrator gets such training. To him, in addition, the regular personal study of Scriptures is necessary for a thorough grasp of the training, and daily devotional reading, and application is required for maintaining spiritual life and for integration with all of life and truth.
According to Deuink and Herbster (1986), leadership, simply put, is one person’s ability to lead others. They claim that God has used leaders in the past and continues to seek men who will be willing to serve him as spiritual leaders (1 Sam. 13: 14; Ezek. 22: 30). To them, if a Christian school is to operate Biblically and efficiently, its administrator must be a spiritual leader, committed to a sound, effective, educational policy.
Spiritual Qualities of a Christian Administrator
According to Sanders (1982), the following qualities should be essential to spiritual leadership: discipline, vision, wisdom, decision, courage, humility, humor, anger, patience, friendship, tact, diplomacy, inspiration, inspirational power, and executive ability. Still on the spiritual qualities of a Christian administrator, Jennings (1972) gives the following ten qualities of a leader: (1) has high drive and achievement desire; (2) has strong mobility drive, a necessity for moving upward; (3) has ability to organize; (4) is decisive, makes decisions quickly; (5) is strongly self-structured, knows himself; (6) is active and aggressive, but not necessarily hostile; (7) is strongly oriented toward reality, interested in the practical, immediate, and direct course; (8) is responsive to supervisors; (9) is detached from, but sympathetic to, subordinates; (10) has home ties broken. Deuink and Herbster (1986) claim that even though these characteristics mentioned by Jennings are helpful in understanding what makes an effective leader, a Christian administrator developing his own leadership qualities possessing them should, of course, look at certain Scripture passages. To them, probably the most basic list is that in Galatians 5: 22-23, the “fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. According to Deuink and Herbster, though no one possesses these qualities totally and continually, a Christian leader ought to set an example by giving evidence of their working in his life. They emphasize that a Christian administrator should always be striving toward perfecting them.
Still considering the spiritual qualities of a Christian administrator, Baker (2002) observes that it is easy to talk about leadership; the hard part comes in putting it to practice. Baker suggests five leadership qualities a Christian administrator should possess to run a successful Christian school: (1) He must set the pace; (2) must stand for what is right; (3) must inspect in order to expect; (4) must be willing to innovate; (5) must feel the spiritual heartbeat. Deuink and Herbster (1986) state that the most specific list of leadership qualities is that given by Apostle Paul as the criteria for “the office of bishop” (1 Tim. 3: 2-7): “blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; ………. Not a novice,” having “a good report of them which are without”. Deuink and Herbster emphasize that though Apostle Paul is addressing the specific office of bishop, or pastor, these qualities, required for the highest church office, indicate general principles for God’s standard of leadership. To them, a careful, prayerful study of these principles will render ideal spiritual criteria for developing quality Christian leadership in a Christian administrator.
The Roles of a Christian Administrator in a Christian School
Having considered the personalities and spiritual qualities of a Christian administrator, I think it is now appropriate to take a look at his roles in a Christian school. According to Mintzberg (1973), a role can be defined as a set of behaviors associated with an office or position. Mintzberg suggests that administrators play ten different roles. So he categorizes these under three major headings:
1. Interpersonal roles: a. Figurehead b. Leader C. Liaison.
2. Information roles: a. Monitor b. Disseminator c. Spokesman.
3. Decision roles: a. Entrepreneur (promotes change) b. Disturbance handler c. Resource allocator d. Negotiator.
Still considering the roles of a Christian administrator; Lowrie (1984) suggests that the roles of a Christian administrator in a Christian school can be seen in the following ways:
1. Coordination of the Total Program: Lowrie states that a Christian administrator shall prepare the school calendar, plan and administer faculty and staff orientation, and meet regularly with personnel and with the board. Deuink and Herbster (1986) claim that the position of a Christian administrator requires that he should be a goal setter, establishing on a short-term and long-term basis specific personal and organizational goals that include a time limit for completion. They state that once he has developed a list of goals, the administrator must set the goals in the order of priority. They claim that with wrong priorities he often accomplishes insignificant goals while leaving more important ones unfinished. They give a word of caution and declare that a Christian administrator must set his priorities in accordance with the priorities of the Word of God; first, his commitment to God, then to others. They go further and advise the administrator that as a family man, he must be committed first to his family, and then to the organization he leads.
2. Procurement and Supervision of Personnel: Lowrie (1984) claims that a Christian administrator is responsible to research, interview, and recommend to the board the hiring and dismissal of the teaching and administrative staff; also will employ substitute teachers and support staff as they are needed. Lowrie emphasizes that the administrator has responsibility for the supervision of all administrative, academic, business, secretarial, and non-instructional personnel. According to Lowrie, the administrator has right to appoint qualified members of the staff to assist with supervision with the approval of the board.
3. Supervision of Curriculum: Lowrie (1984) claims that a Christian administrator has the major responsibility for the development and coordination of curriculum. To Lowrie, the administrator’s supervision of the instructional process will allow principals, department heads, and teachers to function freely within the realm of their job descriptions in order that students’ learning opportunities will be maximized. According to Deuink and Herbster (1986), the system of planning, implementing, and evaluating (PIE) should be a continual process in any Christian organization. They claim that the Lord Jesus Himself used a similar system in sending out the seventy disciples (Luke 10). They emphasized that Jesus first established a plan and communicated that plan to His laborers (vv. 1-2), and implemented the plan by sending the disciples out (vv. 3-16); then they returned to the Lord for evaluation (vv. 17-20). Deuink and Herbster state that Christian schools should never be satisfied with their organization; they should always be working to improve their procedures and products. They conclude that the system of planning, implementing, and evaluating can help the Christian administrator upgrade his program.
4. Board-School Relations: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator is responsible to interpret the school operation to the board, and board action to school personnel. Lowrie claims that the administrator should attend all board meetings, and should submit a written report on the status of the school, its achievements and problems. According to Gangel (2002), a Christian administrator provides spiritual leadership to the board, staff, students, and, where applicable, the parents of the school. To him, the administrator understands and supports the role of the board, submits fully to the board’s authority, and develops a collegial working relationship with the board. Gangel claims that the administrator directs the school in accordance with the board’s written policies and develops administrative procedures that require the staff to function prudently, ethically, legally, and safely. Gangel declares that the administrator deals openly and honestly with the board, keeping the board well informed so they are neither embarrassed, nor forced to “save face”. To him, the administrator leads the board in its understanding of educational research, trends, and successful practices.
5. Budget Formulation and Control: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator should do preliminary work with his teachers, department heads, and principals prior to his work with the finance committee of the board to prepare an annual budget for the consideration of the board. Lowrie states that as a part of the budget planning, the administrator recommends the tuition rate and a salary range for the staff; and he or his designates approve expenditures within the approved budgeted total, and provide a written financial statement of receipts and expenditures for monthly board meetings.
6. Long-Range Planning and Development: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator should submit plans annually for developmental programs in curriculum, building, equipment, and staffing as part of a strategic long-range plan for the total development of the school. To him, the administrator initiates new programs as needed and as approved by the board.
7. Student Admissions and Control: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator should be a member of the admissions committee and should work closely with the committee in the selection of students within guidelines of board policy. To him, the administrator should establish a program of prospective student interviews and testing; and should also regulate and enforce discipline in accordance with the student handbook and faculty manual.
8. Parent-Teacher Fellowship: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator as an ex-officio member should work closely with the Parent-Teacher Fellowship officers to ensure programs that meet the needs of the school families, and to encourage strong spiritual leadership within the organization.
9. Public Relations: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator should work closely with the board and staff members in planning and carrying out effective program of interpreting the school to its publics.
10. Building, Furniture and Equipment: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator or his designate is responsible to see that there is an environment that is conducive to good learning, and furniture and equipment to support classroom needs in providing quality education.
11. Spiritual and Academic Leadership: According to Lowrie (1984), a Christian administrator is to be a person of prayer and Bible study, and is responsible to the board for the spiritual and academic leadership of the school.
Considering all these roles mentioned above of a Christian administrator in a Christian school, it is quite obvious, that a non-Christian administrator in a Christian school will surely perform below the expectations. What an awkward situation!
Baker, A. A. The Successful Christian School. Pensacola: A Beka Book, 2002.
Campbell Roald F., et al. Introduction to Educational Administration. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1983.
Deuink James W. and Herbster Carl D. Effective Christian School Management. Greenville:Bob Jones University Press, 1986.
Gangel, Kenneth O. Called to Lead. Colorado Springs: Purposeful Design Publications, 2002.
Jennings, Eugene E. An Anatomy of Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972.
Lowrie, Roy W. Jr. Administration of the Christian School. Whittier: The Association of Christian Schools International, 1984.
Mintzberg, Henry. The Nature of Managerial Work. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Sanders, Oswald J. Spiritual Leadership. Chicago: Moody Press, 1982.
All Scriptures quoted above are from King James Version Bible.