This is the last post in a series on Steward Leaders. I have advocated for three primary biblical metaphors of a spiritual leader: Servant, Shepherd, and Steward. The picture of a steward in the Ancient Near East was usually that of a slave. This slave would be given great authority and responsibility for the other slaves and all the resources of the estate. His job was to invest and manage those resources according to the master’s desires and expectations. The Apostle Paul is the primary biblical writer who makes use of this metaphor towards leadership.
For a slave to be chosen over every other slave on the estate to fulfill this role, there was one primary character quality that was indispensable.
That is the quality of being trustworthy.
This makes sense. To place someone in charge of precious resources that you are hoping will be multiplied you will always choose the person in whom you have the greatest trust. In 1 Corinthians 4:2 Paul says, Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. The idea of one being found trustworthy means that they are worthy of your trust. I know that is obvious, but I think it has to be stated. The steward actually owns nothing. The master owns it all, but is willing to entrust precious resources to a worthy slave that they might be stewarded towards the master’s desire and fame. In Titus 1:7 Paul lists the qualities of spiritual leaders that he wants Titus to employ for leading the house churches of Crete. The verse states that an overseer (same word as steward) must be above reproach. That means that he is not open to any outside accusations of wrong doing. His reputation is impeccable. He is a leader worthy to be entrusted with precious resources. This carries the connotation of faithfulness. Faithfulness is grown and proven by how well we do the little things. Faithfulness means that one stays true to the intent of the master, but is also full of faith in the stewardship of what has been entrusted to him. This actually implies risk. And when you look at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 you see that the master in the story expected his stewards to take reasonable risks to grow the resources entrusted to them. The reason they could risk is that they saw the greatness of the cause and the generosity of the master.
Once again, the implications for us as spiritual leaders is clear. We own nothing as steward leaders. But we have been entrusted with precious resources by the Master. Most of us have people that we lead, some amount of funding at our disposal, and time. I would also argue that we never lose sight of the need to steward well the critical resources of clear direction and an environment of faith and hope. The expectation of the Master is that we will steward these resources in such a way that they are multiplied. And, that in doing so, the results bring greater glory and honor to the Master. But we must be found trustworthy. We must live lives that are above reproach. That is the indispensable mark of a good steward leader. If we take our posture as a slave seriously then I think we will be on good ground. Remember, a slave is wholly owned and therefore must be wholly surrendered. We bend the knee to the Master for both the resources and the power to carry out our stewardship. Lead well.