In my last two blogs, I discussed how we could lead like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, by being good shepherds to the people God called us to oversee. In this blog. we turn to another biblical word-picture for leaders: Stewards. Here, our attention is directed primarily to the One to which a leader is accountable.
A steward is someone who works for an owner. The owner entrusts to the steward the responsibilities of managing the owner’s resources. The owner sets standards for management, including acceptable behaviors and desired results. Accountability comprises a key component of stewardship. Accountability for meeting standards and for producing results.
Stewardship weaves throughout the fabric of the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis, God set His expectations for Adam and Eve and held them accountable for their actions. Revelation chronicles the ultimate accountability session for all mankind.
From reading the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly had a powerful sense of stewardship in ministry. But, you may ask, “Isn’t He God? Doesn’t that mean He owns everything?” Yes, and yes. Jesus both taught, and demonstrated stewardship. As we shall see, Jesus “reported” back to the Father how He had fulfilled the ministry God had planned for Him.
Foundational passages on Jesus’ practicing and teaching stewardship include—Luke 12:42-48; 16:1-8; John 15:15 and 17:2-26. And, the Apostle Paul affirms Jesus’ teaching (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) as does the Apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:10 and 5:4).
Let’s look at some of the core dimensions of stewardship as discussed in these passages:
- Stewards are to demonstrate wisdom and, when needed, shrewdness.
- Faithfulness characterizes a steward. That is, they follow through with the owner’s instructions. Ready at all times to give an account of their actions and managing well the resources entrusted to them. Jesus said He had completed the work God gave Him to do.
- Good stewards seek to increase their owner’s resources, not just protect them from diminishing or destruction.
- The greater the responsibility given the Steward, the greater the expectation of the desired results.
- Stewards know the owner and his/her requirements and expectations.
- Stewards have authority to act on behalf of the owner. They do not abuse that authority by mistreating those under their care. Jesus reported to the Father, “While I was with them [disciples], I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction” (John 17:12).
- Stewards pass along to those under their care the instructions from the owner. Jesus reported that He had taught the disciples God’s very words.
- Stewards receive appropriate rewards from the owner once the owner reviews the completed work.
It’s sobering for those of us whom God had called be leaders to ask ourselves, “Am I demonstrating the qualities of good stewardship?”
- Do I know what God has called me to do and am I faithfully following His requirements and expectations?
- Am I returning to God a good return on His investment?
- How am I managing well the financial resources God has given me?
- How am I managing well the time and talents of the people God has called me to lead?
Watch for my next blog: Leading Like Jesus: The Servant.